The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a published Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”) opinion wherein it dismissed a claimant’s appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. A longshore claim has three stages: “1) informal mediation before the district director; 2) formal hearings and fact-findings by an ALJ; and 3) appellate review by the [Benefits Review] Board (potentially followed by a circuit court).” In Craven v. Director, OWCP, the claimant bypassed the ALJ stage and tried to appeal a district director’s informal recommendations directly to the Benefits Review Board. This is “particularly problematic because the LHWCA grants the ALJ the exclusive authority to create an evidentiary record upon which an appeal must be based.” If there is no evidentiary record, then there is nothing for the BRB to review. And, if the BRB does not issue a final order, then the Court of Appeals lacks subject matter jurisdiction.
(Note: I originally published this post on Navigable Waters: A Maritime, Longshore and Defense Base Act Blog.)