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Brownstein Rask LLP Portland Oregon Attorneys

Quarterly LHWCA caselaw summary 2023/06

| Norman Cole, Of Counsel

In this quarter the Board continued its practice of issuing a limited number of published decisions.

In Bussanich v. Marine Terminals Corporation, a published decision, the Board addressed the time limit for filing a petition for modification. §22 states a petition for modification may be filed "at any time prior to one year after the date of last payment of compensation, whether or not a compensation order has been issued, or at any time prior to one year after the rejection of a claim." An ALJ awarded additional periods of TTD but no PPD. Claimant unsuccessfully appealed to the Board and to the 9th Circuit and then filed a petition for modification within one year of the 9th Circuit's decision. Employer contended the petition was untimely because it had not been filed within one year of the date of the last payment of compensation. The Board held "rejection of a claim" occurs when a claim is partially rejected. It does not require complete rejection. The petition therefore was timely.

The Board issued several decisions based on Rose v. Vectrus Systems Corporation, reconsideration en banc, 2023 WL 111367 (BRB 20-0279, 12/29/22), criticizing judges for improperly considering claimant's credibility when deciding if the claimant invoked the §20(a) presumption (except in 5th Circuit decisions which allow the ALJ to consider credibility). If, in spite of improperly applying Rose, the ALJ weighed the evidence and concluded claimant had not satisfied the burden of persuasion, the Board deemed the error harmless.

In Osmani v. Service Employees International, Inc., the claimant, a citizen of Kosovo, provided testimony by deposition. The ALJ, finding this testimony unreliable, concluded claimant failed to prove his symptoms were connected to his work for employer. On appeal (without legal representation), claimant, for the first time, argued his deposition testimony had been taken without permission of Kosovar authorities in violation of Kosovar law. The Board held claimant had waived objections by raising this issue for the first time on appeal. It did not decide if deposition testimony could be received if secured in violation of local law.