Three-State Team Navigates Overlapping Workers' Comp and Longshore Claims
Case Study

Three-State Team Navigates Overlapping Workers' Comp and Longshore Claims

A dynamic team of Goldberg Segalla attorneys collaborating across offices in three states successfully resolved a complex matter involving an overlapping Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (LHWCA) claim and a Connecticut state worker’s compensation claim. In this case, the claimant was terminally ill from mesothelioma — but his wife and two young children would be entitled to ongoing benefits after his death. Five previous employers were impled into the claim to identify which was the last responsible. Our client — the claimant’s most recent employer — held that it was not a “maritime” employer, and as such lacked appropriate insurance coverage for the claim, multiplying the already significant exposure.

Debra L. Doby, a partner in the New York City office, handled the LHWCA claim and oversaw the defense of the Connecticut state workers’ compensation claim by addressing the various ways in which our client could be found to be the relevant employer — and what kind of employer it might be — under both claims.

While Deb was ready to try the LHWCA claim if necessary, Meredith L. Pendergrass, an associate in the Baltimore office, prepared and submitted a motion for summary decision, arguing that our client did not qualify for maritime employer status, and that, therefore, the claimant was not entitled to Longshore benefits. Following Meredith’s successful oral argument, the Administrative Law Judge dismissed us from the contentious litigation in late January 2018 — saving our client the significant expense of further discovery and unnecessary trial preparations.

Meanwhile, Samantha K. Levasseur, an associate in the firm’s Hartford office, successfully defended our client before the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission. Through a deposition of the claimant, Samantha was able to elicit testimony that demonstrated that the claimant did not meet the definition of an employee under the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation statute — and, furthermore, that there was no evidence he was exposed to asbestos in the course of working with our client. After presenting this evidence to the Workers’ Compensation Commission, Samantha was able to obtain our client’s excusal from the ongoing state proceedings. As these claims often linger in the State Commission for years before being litigated or settling, excusal from the case saved our client significant expenses related to ongoing litigation.