RECENT SIGNIFICANT DECISIONS
LONGSHORE & HARBOR WORKERS' COMPENSATION ACT
OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
MONTHLY DIGEST # 116
A. United States Supreme Court
In Director, OWCP v. Maher Teminals , ___ U.S. ___, Case No. 93-744 (June 20, 1994), the United States Supreme Court decided that the "true doubt" rule violates § 556(d) of the Administrative Procedure Act because it places the burden of persuasion on the party opposing a benefits award.
In Howlett v. Birkdale Shipping Co. , ___ U.S. ___, Case No. 93-670 (June 13, 1994), the United States Supreme Court held that shipowners have only a narrow duty to warn stevedores of latent defects in the cargo stow and cargo area during the "turnover" period, which relates to the condition of the ship upon commencement of stevedoring operations. The duty attaches only to "latent hazards," which the Court defined as "hazards that are not known to the stevedore and that would be neither obvious to nor anticipated by a skilled stevedore in the competent performance of its work." In so holding, the Court rejected the injured worker's assertion that shipowners have broad obligations to warn of latent hazards in cargo stow and are liable if they fail to live up to these obligations. The Court also concluded that the 1972 Amendments to the LHWCA were designed to shift more responsibility for compensating injured longshoremen to stevedores, who are best able to avoid accidents during cargo operations.
B. Circuit court of appeals
In Baker v. Bethlehem Steel Corp. , ___ F.3d ___, Case No. 93-1695 (4th Cir. May 24, 1994), the Fourth Circuit held that a longshoreman who sustains an occupational, noise-induced, monaural hearing loss may be compensated for a monaural loss under § 8(c)(13)(A). In reaching this holding, the court reversed the Board's holding that the administrative law judge should have converted the Claimant's monaural hearing loss to a binaural loss, and adopted its earlier unpublished opinion in Garner v. Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. , 955 F.2d 41 (4th Cir. 1992).