A Long Way From a New Longshore Act: Critiquing Senate Bill 669

The Loyola Maritime Law Journal recently published an article that I co-wrote with Will Bland, IV, and Tyler Kostal entitled A Long Way From a New Longshore Act: Critiquing Senate Bill 669.  I had the pleasure of presenting this article in a panel discussion at the 2012 Annual Longshore Conference, during a discussion about Senator Johnny Isakson’s attempts to amend the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act.  Below is the article’s abstract:

This Article addresses the proposed amendments to the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”) set out in Senate Bill 669, and argues that many of the proposed amendments will have deleterious effects on the administration and adjudication of LHWCA and Defense Base Act (“DBA”) claims. To be sure, some of the amendments proposed by Senator Johnny Isakson on March 29, 2011, such as the increase in the amount of funeral benefits and the relaxation of the time constraints associated with penalties for late payment of benefits, are non-controversial. The Article argues that other amendments in Senate Bill 669 are complete “game changers,” including: (1) codification of the last responsible employer doctrine; (2) reducing benefits because of prior impairments from non-occupational factors; (3) limiting a claimant’s choice of physician to a physician designated in a carrier’s “health care panel;” (4) abolishing the Second Injury Fund; (5) calculating a claimant’s compensation rate based upon “spendable earnings;” (6) reducing the time for filing claims; (7) allowing benefits-withholding pursuant to the Employment Retirement Income Security Act; and (8) severely punishing LHWCA fraud. The Article describes how these “game changers” will redefine the LHWCA and DBA practice areas. Finally, the Article considers important issues that Senate Bill 669 fails to address, such as the circuit split regarding attorney’s fees under the LHWCA, the meaning of the term “compensation,” and the proper classification of psychological injuries as “traumatic injuries” or “occupational diseases.” Taken as a whole, Senate Bill 669 proves that we are a long way from a new Longshore Act.

In addition to being available in the Loyola Maritime Law Journal, anyone can download the article for free at SSRN.  Simply click on this link and download.

Jon Robinson
As a Member at Mouledoux, Bland, Legrand & Brackett, Jon Robinson focuses his practice on the representation of employers and carriers in matters arising under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, the Defense Base Act, and the War Hazards Compensation Act. He can be contacted at (504) 595-3000 or by e-mail at jrobinson@mblb.com.
Jon Robinson