The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA), codified as 33 U.S.C. § 901-950, is a federal law which provides benefits to employees that are injured, in the course of their employment as longshoremen, on navigable waters or surrounding areas. These benefits can encompass compensation, medical care, and rehabilitation.
In this case, the Second Circuit held for the employer, Weeks Marine, Inc., whom Mr. Field represented, finding that Weeks was not obliged to establish that the evidence it developed was unavailable prior to the first hearing in order to receive a modification hearing pursuant to 33 U.S.C.S. § 922. Instead, the Second Circuit agreed with the ALJ's ultimate determination on remand that the claimant was capable of performing suitable alternative employment based upon all of the facts on the record, and thus, the Second Circuit affirmed the decision by the Benefits Review Board. Finally, the Second Circuit held that the claimant's dispute as to attorney's fees and other issues pertaining to enforcement should be brought before the district court pursuant to 33 U.S.C.S. § 921(d).
In this decision, the Second Circuit held in favor of Mr. Field's client, Weeks Marine Inc. The Second Circuit affirmed the Benefits Review Board's determination that the petitioner was excluded from coverage under LHWCA due to his status as a "member of a crew of a vessel" within the meaning of 33 U.S.C.S. § 902(3)(G) at the time of the alleged injury. The Second Circuit adhered to the Supreme Court decision of Stewart v. Dutra Construction Co., 543 U.S. 481 (2005) to conclude that the dredge constituted as a "vessel". The Second Circuit also found that the petitioner had contributed to the functioning of the dredge and that his connection with same was substantial both in duration and nature. The Second Circuit rejected the petitioner's arguments that collateral estoppel and judicial estoppel prevent Weeks from relitigating the issues of coverage under LHWCA.
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