DBA Attorney Newsletter – January 2014

DBA Newsletter Barnett, Lerner & Karsen, P.A.
(954) 920-7400

Amendments to the Federal Regulations Coming Soon

Federal regulations are statements issued by governmental agencies and departments that carry the force of law. Congress grants agencies and departments the authority to issue regulations, which are used to implement laws passed by Congress. For example, the Department of Labor has the authority to draft and promulgate regulations implementing the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and Defense Base Act.

There are several layers of review and feedback in place for new regulations, and the Department of Labor has completed nearly all the steps required to promulgate amendments to the regulations involving Longshore claims, including the litigation and trial process before the Department of Labor’s Office of Administrative Law Judges. These new regulations address many areas, and will bring litigation practice before the OALJ more in line with litigation before other federal judges. Administrative Law Judges are federal judges, and practice and procedure before the OALJ will be held to the high standards one would expect before any federal court judge.

What does this mean to you? The OALJ will require compliance with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Federal Rules of Evidence. Parties – including injured workers bringing claims before the Department of Labor and OALJ – will have to abide by these rules. All evidence, including documents and names of witnesses, will have to be produced to the other side in a timely manner. Failure to do so may result in the imposition of sanctions on the attorneys and the Parties. This includes having claims or defenses dismissed. To help us ensure we comply with all of the rules, your quick response to our requests for documents or information will be essential. Even if you do not remember information, or do not have documents, please at least let us know that. The Court will not force you to produce or remember something you do not have; but a minimum response stating this is necessary to let the Court and the Employer/Carrier know. A breakdown of attorney and client communication, particularly during the litigation phase of a claim, can result in sanctions by the Court, or our firm withdrawing as counsel for you.

Please be sure to provide our office with ALL documents and information requested, even if it seems the information may not be relevant. Remember, there is a difference between evidence that has to be produced, and evidence that is ultimately admitted by the Court. Our office is highly experienced in federal rules of procedure and evidence, and with your cooperation we can help ensure your claim is litigated as efficiently as possible.

Success Stories

B.W. v. Mantech International Corp. and Zurich Am. Ins. Co., 2014-LDA-00020.
The Employer/Carrier withdraws its denial of claim after being served with Request for Admissions. In this matter, the Employer/Carrier controverted and denied the claim in its entirety, even though the Employer filed a LS-202 (Notice of Injury) and agreed the Claimant was severely injured when a steel A-Frame, weighing hundreds of pounds, fell and crushed him. Trial was scheduled for the first week of April 2014. It was the threat of trial and reality that its defenses were frivolous forced the Employer/Carrier to accept the claim, providing all benefits due.

K.K. v. Mantech International Corp. and Zurich Am. Ins. Co., 2013-LDA-00607.
The Employer/Carrier withdraws its denial of claim on the eve of trial, after being provided several written witness statements, including statements from the Claimant’s supervisor, being served with Request for Admissions, and taking the video deposition Claimant in Kuwait. In this matter, the Employer/Carrier controverted and denied the claim in its entirety, even though the Claimant was struck by a forklift, resulting in a fractured hip and emergency surgery. Trial was scheduled for January 15, 2014. It was the threat of trial and realization its defenses were frivolous that forced the Employer/Carrier to accept the claim two weeks before trial, providing all benefits due.

Lessons Learned: Our firm insists on keeping a trial date on the calendar for several reasons, not only to ensure our clients’ day in Court, but to add pressure on the Employer/Carrier to review the claims and assess whether its defenses are worthy.

Barnett, Lerner & Karsen, P.A.
2860 Marina Mile Blvd., Suite 105
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33312
(954) 920-7400
(954) 920-9492 facsimile
(888) 732-7425 U.S. Toll Free

Offices in Fort Lauderdale, FL and Washington, D.C.