Our qualified Defense Base Act Lawyers are here to help you with any questions you have regarding your DBA case. Here are some very interesting facts and case summaries regarding assignment of compensation in a DBA or Longshore case coming directly from the Longshore Deskbook from the Benefits Review Board. Let our experienced Defense Base Act Attorneys answer your questions. The Longshore Desk Book is a searchable website which is a public record. According to the Longshore Deskbook:

Section 15(a) prohibits agreements by an employee with employer or carrier to contribute towards an insurance policy or fund, the proceeds from which would provide compensation or medical benefits under the Act.

No assignment, release, or commutation of compensation or benefits due or payable under this Act, except as provided by this Act, shall be valid, and such compensation and benefits shall be exempt from all claims of creditors and from levy, execution, and attachment or other remedy for recovery or collection of a debt, which exemption may not be waived.

33 U.S.C. §916. See Sections 8(i), 15(b). Section 17 creates an exception to Section 16, providing that a lien may be granted in favor of a trust fund established under a collective bargaining agreement in compliance with 29 U.S.C. §186(c) where that trust fund has paid benefits to claimant for a disability under the Act.

Where claimants voluntarily assigned to the Veteran’s Administration the rights to reimbursement for medical expenses from employer’s carrier, the Fifth Circuit held that the VA was entitled to recover the cost of the care as a subrogee to the employee’s rights. U.S. v. Bender Welding & Machine Co., 558 F.2d 761 (5th Cir. 1977), rev’g Simmons v. Bender Welding & Machine Co., 3 BRBS 222 (1976), and Love v. Bender Welding & Machine Co., 3 BRBS 183 (1976).

The Louisiana Supreme Court held that a wife could not have the benefits her husband received under the Act garnished for past due child support since it was Congress’ intent that the benefits should go to the disabled worker directly, without any attachment. Applying the supremacy clause, the court reasoned that to allow a wife to garnish these benefits would have required carving out a jurisprudential exception to the statute’s anti-attachment clause, which the strong language of the Act does not permit. Thibodeaux v. Thibodeaux, 454 So.2d 813, 16 BRBS 142(CRT) (La. 1984), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 1114 (1985). Cf. Moyle v. Director, OWCP, 147 F.3d 1116, 32 BRBS 107(CRT) (9th Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1064 (1999) (Social Security Act amendment allowing garnishment for spousal support amends Section 16 to allow such garnishment where payments are made by the U.S., i.e., the Special Fund).

With regard to the provision that compensation and benefits under the Act are exempt from all claims of creditors, the Third Circuit held that an insurance carrier providing coverage for non-occupational injuries or illnesses is not a creditor and may intervene in proceedings under the Act to recover amounts erroneously paid out for injuries or illnesses that are found to be work-related. Aetna Life Ins. Co. v. Harris, 578 F.2d 52 (3d Cir. 1978), rev’g Harris v. Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., 6 BRBS 494 (1977); Pilkington v. Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., 14 BRBS 119 (1981). The Board has held that while it may be appropriate for the sickness and health insurer to intervene to recover monies erroneously paid, there is no authority to allow a credit to employer for monies paid under a sickness and health policy. Jacomino v. Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., 9 BRBS 680 (1979); Pilkington v. Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., 9 BRBS 473 (1978).

If you are a contractor who has been injured on the job while working overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan or on any military base across the world, your case is covered by the Defense Base Act which is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. At the Law Offices of Gillis, Mermell & Pacheco, P.A., our qualified defense base act lawyers have a combination of over 43 years of experience in representing injured workers covered by the Defense Base Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Let us put our years of experience and our reputation to work for you today! Contact us today at mail@gmpcomplaw.com, or go on our website at www.dbalawyers.com and fill out our form on the contact us page, or call us at 305 595 3350.

If you have a question about assignment of compensation or any other question in your DBA or Longshore case, contact our qualified defense base act attorneys today at mail@gmpcomplaw.com, or go on our website at www.dbalawyers.com and fill out our form on the contact us page, or call us at 305 595 3350.

Clifford R. Mermell, Esq.

Clifford R. Mermell, Esq., created the law firm of Gillis, Mermell & Pacheco, P.A. on March 1, 1996. Mr. Mermell has been the senior and managing partner of the firm since its creation. The firm was created to champion the rights of injured workers nationwide. It represents cases under the Worker’s Compensation, Wrongful Termination, Personal Injury, Admiralty and Maritime, Defense Base Act, and Longshore & Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act Laws.


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