Update on Longshore Case From Ninth Circuit – Pedroza v. Benefits Review Board

Update on a Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court has denied rehearing en banc in the case of Pedroza v. BRB, 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 27063 which can be found here. Facts: A harbor worker was unloading materials from a Navy vessel and struck a 440 volt cable line. He did not seek medical attention after the resulting explosion. The worker received a letter from his employer a year later noting that it was his negligence that caused the accient. Thereafter, the claimant sought medical attention. The ALJ and the Benefits Review Board found that his claimed psychological injuries were the result of general working conditions or the personnel actions and denied the claim. There was only one issue in this case: Are psychological injuries that result from legitimate personnel actions compensable under the Longshore Act? The Ninth Circuit reviewed the history of the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. 901 et seq. The court then noted that work related psychological impairment and injuries are presumed to be compensable under the Longshore Act. The court then noted its prior case law, Turner v. Todd Pacific Shipyards Corp., 990 F.2d 1261, No. 91-70524 (9th Cir. 1993)(table) that found that injuries caused by legitimate personnel actions don't fall within the Longshore Act. The court has now endorsed the prior unpublished decision and has explicitly found that such injuries resulting from legitimate personnel actions are not recoverable. Judge Pregerson "specially concurred" stating: I write separately to emphasize that our holding concerns legitimate personnel actions, and not employer conduct that is in any way hostile, vindictive, malicious, mean, insensitive, crude, or abusive.

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