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Stevedoring Services of America Inc. v. Eggert

filed*fn*: April 20, 1992.

STEVEDORING SERVICES OF AMERICA, INC., FORMERLY SEATTLE STEVEDORE COMPANY, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
EDWARD M. EGGERT; JODI EGGERT, HIS WIFE; AND THE MARITAL COMMUNITY COMPOSED THEREOF, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. D.C. No. CV-89-172-JLW. John L. Weinberg, Magistrate, Presiding. Original Opinion Reported at,

Before: Thomas Tang, Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain and Edward Leavy, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Tang.

Author: Tang

AMENDED OPINION

TANG, Circuit Judge:

Edward M. Eggert ("Eggert") appeals the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of Stevedoring Services of America, Inc. ("Stevedoring"). Eggert alleges that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to decide this case. Specifically, Eggert contends that the district court erroneously implied a federal cause of action under the Longshore Harbor Workers' Compensation Act ("LHWCA" or "Act") for recoupment of alleged overcompensation paid to Eggert. We agree with Eggert that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and therefore we reverse and vacate the judgment below.

Background Facts and Procedural History

Eggert was injured several times in 1978, 1979, and 1980. On January 26, 1980, he was injured while working for Stevedoring. On July 14, 1981, an administrative law Judge ("ALJ") awarded Eggert disability pay under the LHWCA pursuant to 33 U.S.C. § 919 (c), (d). The ALJ awarded Eggert $380.78 per week from December 6, 1980, through the date of the order. The order further provided for the continuation of payments to retrain Eggert.

Stevedoring appealed the 1981 order and moved for reconsideration. On July 12, 1985, the Benefits Review Board ("BRB") vacated the 1981 Order and remanded the case for reconsideration of whether Stevedoring was liable for Eggert's injury and whether the injury was permanent.

On remand, Stevedoring introduced additional evidence. The ALJ preliminarily noted that Eggert had concealed income that he had received at the same time he was receiving compensation benefits. The ALJ further noted that Eggert had misrepresented his medical condition to the doctors evaluating him, which affected their diagnosis of his condition. The ALJ, however, did conclude that Eggert's claim for benefits did have some legitimacy, stating that:

Claimant has objective evidence of degenerative disk disease, and did suffer the injuries claimed. It is not unreasonable for him to have assumed that his inability to perform longshore work from January, 1980 through July, 1980, and again after December 6, 1980, was due, at least in part, to his various industrial accidents. . . . I decline to award [Stevedoring] costs under section 26 of the LHWCA.

The ALJ then turned to the issues submitted to him on remand from the BRB. The ALJ ruled that two non-industrial accidents were separate and intervening causes of Eggert's disability. Consequently, on March 9, 1987, the ALJ ordered that Stevedoring was only liable to pay Eggert compensation for the period January 26, 1980, through April 15, 1980. The ALJ futher held that Stevedoring was entitled to a credit for all sums after April 15, 1980.

Neither Eggert nor Stevedoring appealed the 1987 order. In a subsequent order, the ALJ awarded Stevedoring an attorney's fee of $60 against Eggert as a sanction for having made proceedings to compel discovery necessary.

On February 23, 1989, Stevedoring filed a complaint in United States District Court for the Western District of Washington to recover alleged overpayment of disability benefits paid to Eggert. Because Stevedoring had continued to pay Eggert disability benefits up until the issuance of the March 1987 order, Stevedoring claimed that Eggert had been overpaid $96,651.55 in compensation. The parties brought cross-motions for summary judgment. The court granted Stevedoring's ...


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