Back to All Areas of Practice

LHWCA/OCSLA/DBA

Sheehy, Ware & Pappas’ Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) practice group is led by Michael D. Murphy.

We represent employers, carriers and approved self-insured entities under the LHWCA and its extensions –the DBA (Defense Base Act) and OCSLA (the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act). Our team has secured key victories at the trial level (Administrative Law Judge hearings), before the BRB (the Benefits Review Board), in United States District Courts, and in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. We have successfully argued before the Fifth Circuit.

Notable wins over the last 20 years include:

  • Keith Smith v. KBR/AIG – 4:11- CV-01065- DBA decision issued March 11, 2013 by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. We persuaded the federal judge to overturn the BRB’s mandate that all overseas DBA workers have the AWW –Average Weekly Wage (or wage earning capacity) determined solely by the workers’ (usually excessive) overseas earnings alone. On appeal, the District Court reversed the BRB and permitted the “blending” or averaging of the AWW by looking at both domestic and overseas earnings of the workers, over time. This decision impacted DBA cases in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
  • Cardenas v. M&M Project Staffing & Gray Ins. Co., No. 07-60541 – LHWCA decision. Argued before Chief Judge Jones of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals- decisions issued August 20, 2008 – The Fifth Circuit, after oral argument, reversed the BRB’s calculation of AWW which had been in the longshoreman’s favor. The Order decreased our client’s exposure by over thirty percent.
  • Mapp v. Transocean Offshore & Zurich American Ins. Co. – LHWCA decision, BRB No. 03-0607, issued June 16, 2004. The BRB affirmed the trial ALJ’s holding that Section 33(g) of the LHWCA acted to bar Claimant’s entitlement to any future compensation or medical care because Claimant (who also claimed to be a Jones Act seaman) settled his Jones Act case of for $100,000.00 without Carrier’s approval. The Employer did participate in and approved the Jones Act settlement. However, we prevailed because Carrier never engaged in any settlement discussions. By settling his Jones Act case without our explicit approval, the Claimant/Jones Act seaman was barred from any further LHWCA benefits.
  • Piceynski v. DynCorp and ISOP DBA decision – (94-LHC-2387). We secured the first reported Gulf War Syndrome trial victory stemming from Gulf War I. The win was issued by ALJ Kerr on June 12, 1997. ALJ Kerr denied the claim entirely.

We communicate with our clients early and often and work together to navigate the best path forward by either efficiently resolving the matter or preparing for trial and any needed appeal. Choosing which cases to try and possibly appeal matters because LHWCA Carriers and Employers must pay for both defense counsel’s fees/costs and claimant’s counsel fees and costs if the opposition secures a “benefit”. Working with and listening to our clients, we pick our fights carefully and preserve/press key issues for appeal.