9th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act
Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor leads the effort to fight for workers’ rights; May Go To U.S. Supreme Court
“We are pleased that the 9th Circuit is sending a clear message to employers and their insurance carriers – to stop denying legitimate claims by prolonging and increasing the cost of litigation,”
California United Terminals is now likely to ask the United States Supreme Court to hear the case, which they must do within 90 days.
In 2002, Sandra Towne, a 59 year Marine Clerk, was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, an injury that is most commonly the result of repetitive trauma over time. After conservative, non-surgical care failed, she needed surgery. Towne filed a claim to receive benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) which provides benefits including medical care compensation for temporary disability at 2/3 of average wages while off work and recovering. When her claim was denied, she retained Charles D. Naylor.
“The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is meant to provide very basic level of compensation and it’s supposed to be made available to those that are injured without the need for an attorney or any litigation,”
While seeking conservative treatment, Towne continued to work on the waterfront. Like most longshore workers and marine clerks on the West Coast, Towne received work assignments at the union dispatch hall and often worked for a different employer from day to day. The law applying the LHWCA is very clear on the following:
• The last employer where a worker is exposed to repetitive trauma is responsible to provide compensation benefits to a worker injured by repetitive trauma.
• If the injured worker has to retain an attorney to collect benefits, and is ultimately successful, the employer is responsible for the Claimant’s attorney’s fees.
Two and a half years after she was diagnosed, Towne's then employer, California United Terminals, Inc., agreed to pay for the surgery she needed after being joined in the litigation by the judge. In trial court, and before the Benefits Review Board, California United Terminals was ordered to pay all of Claimant’s attorney’s fees.
California United Terminals (CUT) took the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. On February 8, 2011, CUT argued that they are only responsible for fees during a 13 day period, at most, out of the eight and one half years of litigation, and that the remainder should come out of Towne's pocket. The Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor, along with Joshua Gillelan II, Esq. of the Longshore Claimants’ National Law Center, represented Ms. Towne.
An audio transcript of the oral arguments and a copy of the Court’s decision (Memorandum)
About Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor
Since 1974, the Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor has been compassionately and aggressively representing injured workers from the maritime trades including seamen, longshore and marine construction workers, and cruise ship passengers and crew. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys specialize in Maritime Personal Injury, Jones Act, Longshore & Harbor Workers Compensation Act and Cruise Ship Injury.
In 2007, Charles D. Naylor obtained a $55.2 million jury verdict ($5.2M compensatory / $50M punitive) against the now bankrupt DaimlerChrysler for the wrongful death of a longshoreman. In 2009, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court ordered Chrysler to pay a $24 million settlement.
Charles D. Naylor received California Lawyer magazine’s prestigious CLAY Award in 2008, has an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and has been recognized by Southern California Super Lawyers as one of the “top attorneys in Southern California” (2007- 2011). For more information, visit http://www.NaylorLaw.com.
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Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor specializes in: Jones Act, Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, Cruise Ship Injury, Defense Base Act, Maritime Personal Injury, Trucking, Death on the High Seas Act, Catastrophic Injury, and Wrongful Death.