In 2005, Claimant injured his back while working for Employer. Between 2005 and 2010, Claimant continued seeking medical treatment for his back. Following a formal hearing, an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) ordered Employer to pay temporary total disability and 104 weeks of permanent partial disability. Beginning at week 105, the Special Fund would begin paying benefits. Employer “was entitled to be reimbursed by the Special Fund for certain overpayments.”
Six months later, Claimant received a letter from the Department of Labor (“DOL”) which said that Employer had paid Claimant at a higher rate than that ordered by the ALJ. Claimant was overpaid by roughly $39,000. To reimburse Employer for the overpayment, the DOL deducted a portion of Claimant’s weekly payments. Aggrieved by the deduction, Claimant eventually filed an enforcement action in the District Court of Hawaii, which framed the issue as follows:
The crux of the present dispute is whether reimbursement by the Special Fund of BAE Systems’ overpayments is a cost to be borne by the Special Fund without affecting payments to Teruya, or an adjustment by the Special Fund that includes payments to BAE Systems and corresponding reductions in payments to Teruya. Put another way, the parties’ dispute focuses on how much Teruya is entitled to receive in weekly payments. On the one hand, Teruya seeks a windfall in the form of retaining overpayments without any loss in subsequent payments. On the other hand, the Special Fund seeks to repay BAE Systems by so severely cutting Teruya’s weekly allotments that it is easy to imagine the strain on him.
Claimant’s problem was that he sued Employer when “his battle [was] with the Special Fund.” It was the Special Fund, not Employer, who was making permanent partial disability payments. Consequently, there was nothing to enforce against Employer. Claimant’s action against Employer was dismissed.
Teruya v. BAE Systems Hawaii Shipyards, No. 13-00003 (D. Haw. July 11, 2013).
(Note: I originally published this post on Navigable Waters: A Maritime, Longshore and Defense Base Act Blog.)