New Longshore Case from Fifth Circuit – Eysselinck v. Dir., OWCP

New Longshore/Defense Base Act case from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The issue is PTSD and wilfull injury to an employee. The case is Eysselinck v. Dir., OWCP, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 17227 and can be found here. It is unpublished and not precedential. Facts: a contract worker home on leave from his job in Iraq committed suicide. His widow sought death benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (42 U.S.C. 1651(c) but was denied at the administrative level. The District Court also denied relief, as did, ultimately, the Fifth Circuit. Analysis: The widow argued that the suicide was caused by the decedent's post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) relating to work stress and danger. At the administrative hearing level, the Administrative Law Judge heard from competing experts regarding the likelihood that the decedent did in fact have PTSD. The ALJ found that he did not have PTSD, found that the decedent wilfully committed suicide and denied benefits. Per the court, under 33 U.S.C. 903(c), ""[n]o compensation shall be payable if the injury was occasioned solely by the intoxication of the employee or by the willful intention of the employee to injure or kill himself or another." The widow argued that she was entitled to a statutory presumption that the injuries were not wilful, but the court noted that the presumption only applied in the "absence of substantial evidence fo the contrary" and then noted the substantial evidence in the record that the decdent's death was willful.

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