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Appeal from the United States District Court For the Western District of Texas

Plaintiff-Appellant Jose Hernandez (“Hernandez”) brought this suit in state court against his former employer Jobe Concrete Products, Inc. (“Jobe”) after he suffered an on-the-job injury. After Jobe successfully removed the case to federal court, the district court issued a judgment dismissing Hernandez’s complaint and compelling arbitration between the parties. On appeal, Hernandez challenges the subject matter jurisdiction of the district court. We must decide whether ERISA’s preemption provisions confer federal jurisdiction, or whether the district court should have granted Hernandez’s motion to remand the case to state court.

Hernandez injured his back in the course of his employment for Jobe. Hernandez contends that after his return to work following his injury, he was required to perform “arduous manual work” in contravention of his doctor’s instructions. As a result, Hernandez quit his job with Jobe, and his medical benefits under Jobe’s occupational injury plan ceased. Hernandez subsequently brought suit against Jobe, asserting claims for unlawful retaliation, negligence, breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. After Hernandez’s initial claim was filed in state court, Jobe removed the case to federal district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. � 1331, alleging that Hernandez’s state law claims were preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended, (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. � 1001 et seq., because his claims related to an employee benefit plan. Jobe then filed a motion to compel arbitration and to stay proceedings, and a Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Hernandez filed a motion to remand to state court, arguing that Jobe’s benefit plan, as a state-regulated workers’ compensation plan, was exempt from the provisions of ERISA under 29 U.S.C. � 1003(b). Rather than addressing Hernandez’s motion to remand, the district court granted Jobe’s motion to compel arbitration, denied all remaining motions as moot, and dismissed the case. We must now determine whether Jobe’s plan is an ERISA plan subject to federal preemption, or whether it falls within the exception to preemption reserved for state workers’ compensation plans.

 
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