Defense Base Act Attorneys
For Civilians Injured Overseas
Court Of Appeals Decides Jurisdiction in Defense Base Act Cases
Attorneys at the Long Beach office of Cantrell Green specializing in Defense Base Act law watched with interest as the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit handed down an important Defense Base Act opinion in the case of Global Linguist Solutions, LLC; Zurich American Insurance Company v. Abdulraouf Abdelmeged, U.S. Department of Labor (January 16, 2019), Case No. 17-72516, BRB No. 17-0001.
This article will highlight some of the important aspects of the Defense Base Act, and then discuss the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Global Linguist Solutions and what impact it will have on future Defense Base Act cases.
Defense Base Act Case: Global Linguist Solutions LLC v. Abdelmeged
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its decision in Global Linguist Solutions LLC v. Abdelmeged on January 16, 2019. By way of background, Global Linguist Solutions, the petitioner, employed a linguist and interpreter named Abdulraouf Abdelmeged. Abdelmeged served as an interpreter to support the American military in Iraq for approximately two years.
About two years after returning to the United States, Abdelmeged filed a workers comp claim under the Defense Base Act. In his claim, stated that he suffered from severe PTSD that he alleged was caused by his work in Iraq. He further stated that the PTSD made it impossible for him to find work where he would be able to make what he had previously earned.
As the case proceeded, Mr. Abdelmeged and his employer appeared at two separate hearings before an Administrative Law Judge. Subsequently, the Department of Labor’s Benefits Review Board, the agency responsible for making Defense Base Act determinations, sided with Abdelmeged. Based on the evidence, they determined that Mr. Abdelmeged was indeed unable to work due to PTSD, a psychiatric condition that either developed from, or was exacerbated by his employment in Iraq.
The Benefits Review Board found that Mr. Abdelmeged was entitled to compensation from the date he returned from Iraq. Global Linguist Solutions, who had employed Mr. Abdelmeged, and Global Linguist Solutions’ insurance company, Zurich American Insurance Company, then filed an appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Two Questions Considered in Defense Base Act CAses
The Ninth Circuit considered two distinct questions in this Defense Base Act Case. The first question was jurisdictional – where should a Defense Base Act appeal be filed. The second question was whether or not the evidence of Mr. Abdelmeged’s PTSD was sufficient to support the Benefits Review Board’s findings.
Jurisdiction In Defense Base Act Cases
The jurisdictional issue proved to be an interesting question for the Ninth Circuit. Generally, an appeal up for review under the Defense Base Act would be filed directly with the Court of Appeals. However, it was unclear whether the appeal should be filed in the circuit where the administrative law judge made the initial decision, or whether it should properly be filed in the circuit where the relevant district director administering the Defense Base Act claim is located.
In the Global Linguist Solutions case, the Ninth Circuit looked to the actual text of the Defense Base Act, and based upon that language, determined that petitions for review should be filed in the Circuit Court assigned to the location in which the district director resides. Their finding was in part based on the fact that administrative law judges generally move from place to place, a fact that could conceivably place an appeal a great distance from the location where the initial claim was filed.
Sufficiency of Proof in Defense Base Act Cases
The second question for the Ninth Circuit to decide pertained to the credibility of Mr. Abdelmeged’s claim for PTSD. Although there was a significant amount of evidence challenging the claim, the expert report and diagnosis filed on behalf of Abdelmeged was deemed sufficient to support the workers comp claim amount.
Accordingly, based upon the jurisdictional and sufficiency of proof determinations, the Ninth Circuit upheld Mr. Abdelmeged’s claim.
Long Beach attorneys at Cantrell Green watched the progression of Global Linguist Solutions v. Abdelmeged very carefully. Both the jurisdictional and evidentiary issues have an effect on future workers comp cases that fall under the Defense Base Act.
Cantrell Green’s Defense Base Act attorneys are well versed in the intricacies of that area of law, and stay up to date on recent cases and decisions that pertain to it. If you work as a defense contractor and are injured on the job, give our attorneys a call. Defense Base Act cases require specific expertise, and our attorneys have what it takes to manage your case and get the best results possible in your unique circumstances.
Best Defense Base Act Case Attorneys
Our highly specialized Defense Base Act attorneys are committed to ensuring that every injured or disabled civilian employee obtains the benefits he or she has earned. We have successfully filed hundreds of Defense Base Act applications and appeals – obtaining millions of dollars in DBA benefits in over four decades of legal service.
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