Defense Base Act Articles
Defense Base Act Not Always an Exclusive Remedy
The Defense Base Act specifically states that a civilian contractors’ DBA benefits are “exclusive and in place of all other liability” for their injuries. However, certain decisions from the “Benefits Review Board” have actually allowed “double recovery” (or “double dipping”) in certain Defense Base Act cases, under certain circumstances, for certain types of contractors.
In other words, while the general rule is that the injured employee cannot collect DBA benefits and pursue compensation under a negligence or other claim, there are circumstance where the worker can also bring a second lawsuit against their employer.
Foreign Workers Can Sometimes “Double Dip” in Defense Base Act Cases
In the case of Newton-Sealey v. Armorgroup Services (Jersey) Limited a British citizen who qualified for a Defense Base Act claim in the United States was also suing for negligence and breach of contract in the British court system. The injured worker received a settlement in the British case, but also continued pursuing the DBA claim in the United States.
The Board of Review decided that the worker could collect both the DBA benefits and file the negligence claim in his home country. Their reasoning was that under British law, claimants do have a right to pursue both a local workers’ compensation claims and a tort remedy against an employer.
While this case dealt only with a British claimant, chances are high that its precedent will be followed and applied to DBA claimants who want to “double dip” and sue their employer in other countries.
If you are a foreign national employed by a Defense Base Act, and you believe you also have a separate case against your employer, you should consult with an attorney. Your home country’s laws will likely determine whether you can bring a separate, second lawsuit against your employer for the same injury covered by the DBA.
American Workers Cannot “Double Dip” in Defense Base Act Cases
Unfortunately “double dipping” is NOT permitted by American citizens who are collecting DBA benefits and who also want to sue their employer. In that same case, the Review Board stated that: “The rights of foreign nationals … are not always the same as those of American citizens and residents” under the Defense Base Act.
So, while the Newton-Sealey case does not help American workers who qualify for Defense Base Act benefits, it is good news for foreign employees working as US government contractors.
However, in other cases courts have said that in certain very specific and limited situations remedies falling outside of the Defense Base Act Case may be available to plaintiffs. For instance, an individual plaintiff who is also a DBA contractor could pursue claims for assault, sexual assault, or breach of contract.
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