Defense Base Act Attorneys
What is the Marino-Sewell Doctrine in DBA Cases?
Collecting any type of workers compensation benefits for psychological or psychiatric illness has always been difficult. This is because collecting workers compensation requires the injured employee to provide definitive “proof” that the injury or illness was caused by working conditions.
So, in the case of a slip and fall, a head injury, or a machining accident, there is a clear cut definable moment when the employee was injured at work. But “proving” the cause of psychological damage is much less “black and white” and therefore much more difficult.
In Defense Base Act cases, the issue of long-term debilitating psychological disability comes up with some frequency, due to the horrors of war zone activity that many civilian contractors endure while working on military bases overseas.
Understanding the Marino-Sewell Doctrine
One “doctrine” – a legal policy established by precedent – that some employers try to use to deny DBA compensation for psychological injuries is the Marino-Sewell doctrine.
The MarinoSewell doctrine gets its name from two different Benefits Review Board cases: Marino v. Navy Exchange Serv., (1988) and Sewell v. Noncommissioned Officers Open Mess, (1998).
In the Marino case a claimant had been awarded benefits under the Longshore Act for work-related psychological injuries, under the claimant’s assertion that his psychiatric damage was caused by a layoff.
But the Board of Review disallowed (reversed) his benefits saying that layoffs or a reduction in work force do not constitute “working conditions” that would give rise to a compensable psychiatric injury.
Then in the Sewel case, nine years later, the Board of Review addressed this same issue again. This time the claimant asserted that her stress-related psychiatric problems were caused by her poor working conditions, specifically a supervisor with a very aggressive management style.
In this case, the claimant was awarded compensation for her psychological injuries, because they were shown to be caused by her stressful working conditions, regardless of the disciplinary and termination action.
So, the Marino-Sewell doctrine combines these two cases into one “rule” about compensation for psychiatric injury: If the psychological condition was caused solely or wholly by a legitimate personnel decision (such as firing or termination), then the condition is not a compensable injury. But, if the actual employment conditions contributed in any way to the psychological injury, then the claimant does have a compensable work injury, regardless of whether there was also a personnel decision that may have impacted the claimant.
The Marino-Sewell Doctrine in DBA Cases
Unfortunately, The Marino-Sewell Doctrine is often misapplied by contractors and their DBA insurers to try to deny Defense Base Act compensation for psychologically injured civilian workers overseas. To avoid paying DBA benefits some employers may try to invoke Marino-Sewell Doctrine when a legitimate adverse personnel decision co-exists with injurious working conditions or events.
Defense Base Act (DBA) Attorneys
Collecting workers compensation for psychiatric injury due to conditions in the workplace can be very difficult. And misapplication of the Marino-Sewell Doctrine in DBA cases, used as a smokescreen can make it even harder and more complicated for a claimant to collect the benefits for which they qualify.
For this reason it is important to have an experienced and specialized DBA attorney by your side if your benefits are denied. The Law Offices of Cantrell Green has more than 45 years of experience handling workers’ compensation claims, including claims for civilian contractors injured overseas under the Defense Base Act. We have obtained millions of dollars in Defense Base Act Benefits for our clients.
To ensure that you receive the Defense Base Act benefits that you deserve, let our experienced attorneys help you from the start. We can help you avoid a denial or delay in collecting Defense Base Act Benefits that you deserve.
And, if you have already applied for Defense Base Act Benefits and have been denied, our attorneys can handle the demanding process of filing an appeal – so that you obtain the maximum Defense Base Act Benefits for which you qualify, as soon as possible.
Free Consultation with a Defense Base Act Attorney: 800-964-8047
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