The Office of Administrative Law Judges suspended hearings and procedural deadlines due to the COVID-19 national emergency. The suspension takes effect on March 23, 2020. This suspension applies to both Longshore and Defense Base Act claims.
What does this mean?
- The OALJ suspended until May 15, 2020. The OALJ will reassess this suspension on May 4, 2020, to determine whether the suspension will continue beyond May 15th.
- The moratorium on hearings does not include cases that will be decided on the record.
- Procedural deadlines currently pending are suspended until May 15, 2020. The assigned judge will address deadlines for cases scheduled for hearing between May 18 and June 12, 2020.
- Telephonic mediations and settlement judge conferences may proceed with the consent of all parties.
- File documents via e-mail.
- OALJ offices will be minimally staffed so, again, file documents by e-mail.
- Decisions in DBA and Longshore Act and claims will not be issued until at least April 15, 2020–maybe longer.
The last bullet point warrants a direct quote:
HOLD ON ISSUANCE OF ORDERS AND DECISIONS: COVID-19 control efforts have resulted in reduced staffing at agency locations, and consequently have limited our ability to serve orders and decisions. Moreover, COVID-19 has impacted the ability of many litigants to receive or comply with decisional orders in a timely fashion. Accordingly, OALJ will put a hold on issuance of decisions at least until April 15, 2020. . . . In addition, the presiding ALJ retains the discretion to issue decisions in those instances in which it is determined that withholding issuance of the decision will result in a significant health or safety risk or will cause substantial prejudice to a party.
For more information, please review Administrative Notice 2020-MIS-00006.