The Division of Black Lung and Longshore Legal Services (BLLLS) provides legal services in connection with federal statutes that afford benefits to certain workers who are injured or die as a result of their employment, and to the survivors of those workers. These statutes, which are administered by the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP), are:
- The Black Lung Benefits Act; and
- The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, as well as its extensions, including the Defense Base Act and Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
The Division advises OWCP on its legal obligations in administering the statutes, and aids in preparing regulations that implement the statutes. In addition, Division attorneys represent OWCP in appellate litigation before the Benefits Review Board and the U.S. Courts of Appeals. Division attorneys regularly participate in appeals to defend the agency's interests and present the agency's interpretations of the statutes and their implementing regulations.
- Provided legal advice and drafting assistance for a rule requiring all parties in a black lung benefits claim to disclose medical information developed about the miner. This important rule protects coal miners' health, assists unrepresented claimants, and promotes correct benefits decisions.
- Persuaded the Fourth Circuit to uphold an OWCP regulation specifying the facts an employer must prove to rebut the Black Lung Benefits Act's presumption of total disability due to black lung disease. West Virginia CWP Fund v. Bender (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit) (brief decision).
- Successfully defended OWCP's statutory interpretations in the United States Courts of Appeals:
- Overseas contractors covered by the Defense Base Act are entitled to benefits even if injured outside the workplace, provided those injuries were reasonably foreseeable. Batelle Memorial Institute v. DiCecca (U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit) (brief decision);
- A Black Lung Benefits Act amendment expanding the availability of survivors' benefits applies even to survivors who were denied benefits under the earlier, less encompassing standard. Union Carbide Corp. v. Richards (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit) (brief decision).
- Assisted the Solicitor General's Office in successfully defending OWCP's interpretation of the Longshore Act's maximum benefits provision before the U.S. Supreme Court. Roberts v. Sea-Land Services (brief decision)
What We Do
The Division's attorneys:
- Brief and argue appeals before the Benefits Review Board and the United States Courts of Appeals and assist the Solicitor General in cases before the Supreme Court;
- Draft and review program regulations;
- Review or assist in the drafting of proposed legislation and Congressional testimony;
- Enforce benefits awards;
- Protect the government's interests in employer bankruptcies; and
- Provide legal advice on a variety of matters, including:
- Agency policies;
- Initiatives to improve operation of the programs; and
- Agency training and guidance.
Our attorneys are not restricted to one area of work, but undertake a variety of assignments under the supervision of the Division's managers.
DOL Agencies Supported
- Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation
- Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation
200 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20210
|Associate Solicitor||Barry H. Joyner|
|Deputy Associate Solicitor||Jennifer Feldman Jones|
|Counsel for Administrative Litigation and Legal Advice||Steven J. Winkelman|
|Counsel for Appellate Litigation||Gary K. Stearman|
|Counsel for Appellate Litigation and Enforcement||Sean G. Bajkowski|
|Counsel for Longshore||Mark A. Reinhalter|
|Counsel for Regulations and Legislation||Radha Vishnuvajjala|
|Staff Assistant||Brenda W. Crawford|