United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
Cynthia L. Merlini Plaintiff,
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge.
Merlini (“Merlini” or “plaintiff”)
filed this action against the sovereign nation of Canada
(“defendant”) in March, 2017. She claims that
during her employment by the Consulate General of Canada in
Boston, an arm of the Government of Canada (“the
Consulate”), she suffered an injury that left her
before this Court is defendant's motion to dismiss for
lack of jurisdiction. For the reasons that follow,
defendant's motion to dismiss will be allowed.
states that she is a United States citizen living in
Massachusetts and that she is not a Canadian citizen or
national. She worked for defendant at the Consulate in a
clerical position from 2003 to 2009. Her duties were
secretarial and included answering the telephone, maintaining
files and typing letters.
claims that on January 22, 2009, while preparing coffee and
tea for a meeting at the Consulate's office, she tripped
over an unsecured speakerphone cord and fell, striking a
credenza. She alleges that as a result of that accident, she
suffered a serious bodily injury that rendered her unable to
work. In this action, Merlini seeks damages for physical and
mental pain and suffering, medical expenses, past and future
lost wages, physical dysfunction and loss of earning
maintains she received benefits from the Government of Canada
pursuant to Canadian law from March, 2009, until October,
2009, at which point the Government of Canada stopped paying
her benefits. She did not appeal the discontinuation of
benefits in Canada.
brought a claim against defendant in the Massachusetts
Department of Industrial Accidents (“DIA”). She
alleged that defendant neither purchased workers'
compensation insurance nor obtained a license as a
self-insurer, in violation of Massachusetts workers
compensation law. M.G.L. c. 152. An administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) at DIA found Merlini was entitled to
permanent and total incapacity benefits and other benefits
from the Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Trust Fund.
reviewing board reversed the ALJ's decision, finding that
1) Canada was not within the Commonwealth's personal
jurisdiction, 2) Canada was not improperly uninsured because
it had immunity under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act
(“FSIA”) and 3) Merlini had no claim because she
was entitled to benefits under Canadian law. Merlini appealed
the reviewing board's decision to the Massachusetts
Appeals Court. In re Merlini, 154 N.E.3d 606 (Mass.
App. Ct. 2016) (unpublished table opinion). The Massachusetts
Appeals Court held that the DIA reviewing board correctly
reversed the ALJ, concluding the reviewing board properly
found Canadian law applied and that Merlini's remedy, if
any, was against the Canadian government. Id. at *2.
The Court did not address the issue of whether the Canadian
government is subject to jurisdiction in the Commonwealth,
id., and Merlini did not petition the Massachusetts
Supreme Judicial Court for further appellate review.
March 23, 2017, Merlini filed a complaint in this Court,
alleging defendant violated M.G.L. c. 152, § 66. She
claims defendant is strictly liable for her injuries because
defendant was unlawfully uninsured under the Massachusetts
workers' compensation statute.
filed a motion to dismiss in June, 2017, contending that 1)
this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction to hear
Merlini's claim, 2) the DIA Reviewing Board's
decision precludes Merlini from bringing this case and 3)
Merlini has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. Because this Court agrees with defendant that it
lacks subject-matter jurisdiction to hear plaintiff's
case, it will address only that issue.
Defendant's Motions to Dismiss for Lack of