Pro Se Claimant's Inadequate Briefing and Lack of Evidence Required Dismissal

In Goins v. Director, OWCP, the pro se claimant sought review of an order from the Benefits Review Board ("BRB") affirming the dismissal of his Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act ("LHWCA") claim. Although the claimant's brief was "not a model of clarity," the Fifth Circuit could divine that he alleged misconduct on the part of the United States Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs ("OWCP") and other entities. The claimant alleged that the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") conspired with the OWCP and the Defendants to bar his claim through misconduct, by damaging key evidence, and by omitting materials from the ALJ's consideration of his LHWCA claim. Then, he alleged that the BRB erred when it failed to investigate his claims, and by mistakenly relying on the transcript of the wrong ALJ proceedings. Here, the claimant failed to adequately brief these issues, but even if he did, substantial evidence did not support the claimant's request for relief. A pro se claimant's briefs are liberally construed, but pro se litigants must nonetheless properly brief issues and arguments on appeal. As explained by the court: "The adequate briefing standard is a low hurdle, but we must conclude Petitioner's briefing fails to clear it. His briefing lacks record citations, citations to relevant legal authority, or any supporting documentation whatsoever with respect to his arguments. Petitioner's record excerpts, also, provide no indication of the basis of his claims. … We have consistently recognised that when an appellant fails to provide 'the reasons he deserves the requested relief with citation to the authorities, statutes, and parts of the record relied on,' that failure constitutes waiver." Geiger v. Jowers, 404 F.3d 371, 373, n.6 (5th Cir. 2005). Even had he preserved a challenge, the claimant's Section 31(c) and Section 48(a) were rightfully dismissed. The claimant failed to submit evidence of a material misrepresentation for the purpose of reducing, denying or terminating his benefits. Further, he failed to state a discrimination claim against one employer and failed to prove his discrimination claim against another. Goins v. Director, OWCP, No. 10-60702 (5th Cir. Aug. 10, 2011). Disclosure: Mouledoux, Bland, Legrand & Brackett's Rob Popich represented Lake Charles Stevedores, Inc., and PORTS Insurance Company, Inc.

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