San Pedro, CA – February 8, 2011 – Today the Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor, along with Joshua Gillelan II, Esq. of the Longshore Claimants’ National Law Center, present oral arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit (California United Terminals, Inc. vs. Towne). By way of one injured longshore worker, today’s arguments represent the right for all workers to receive fair and timely compensation and the culmination of nine years of litigation for a case that should have never have seen a court room.
Sandra Towne, a 59 year Marine Clerk, was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in summer 2002. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an injury that is most commonly the result of repetitive trauma over time. After conservative, non-surgical care failed, she needed surgery. Towne filed a claim to receive benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) which provides compensation for the cost of medical care and 2/3 of average wages while recovering.
“The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is meant to provide very basic compensation and it’s supposed to be made available to those that are injured without the need for an attorney or any litigation,” said Charles D. Naylor of the Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor, a Los Angeles-based law firm specializing in maritime and admiralty law. Over the course of his 35-year career, Naylor has handled hundreds of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act claims.
While seeking conservative treatment, Towne continued to work on the waterfront. Like most longshore workers and marine clerks on the West Coast, Towne received work assignments at the union dispatch hall and often worked for a different employer from day to day. The law applying the LHWCA is very clear on the following:
- The last employer where a worker is exposed to repetitive trauma is responsible to provide compensation benefits to a worker injured by repetitive trauma.
- If the injured worker has to retain an attorney to collect benefits, and is ultimately successful, the employer is responsible for the Claimant’s attorney’s fees.
When all Towne’s employers denied benefits, she retained Charles D. Naylor of the Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor. Two and a half years after she was diagnosed, Towne’s then employer, California United Terminals, Inc., agreed to pay for the surgery she needed after being joined in the litigation by the judge.
In trial court, and before the Benefits Review Board, California United Terminals was ordered to pay all of Claimant’s attorney’s fees. Today California United Terminals will try to argue that they are responsible for fees during a 13 day period, at most, out of the eight and one half years of litigation, and that the remainder should come out of Towne’s pocket.
“Ms. Towne only hired an attorney because she had to, and now because her employers were able to pass the buck for so long, the attorney’s fees far exceed the cost of her surgery and her lost wages during her recovery,” said Charles D. Naylor. “If the 9th Circuit rules in favor of California United Terminals it will set a precedent that will allow employers to deny treatment or stall approval of legitimate claims. This will essentially render the claims process under the Longshore Act too risky for the injured worker and therefore completely ineffective.”
If Towne and the Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor are successful in holding California United Terminals responsible for all the attorney’s fees, it will discourage employers and their insurance carriers from denying legitimate claims by prolonging and increasing the cost of litigation. California United Terminals are likely to ask the United States Supreme Court to hear the case if they are unsuccessful.
A decision is expected within 90 days. An audio transcript of the oral arguments will be made available on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals website (by 12 p.m. PST, Wednesday, February 9).
About Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor
Since 1975, the Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor has been compassionately and aggressively representing injured workers from the maritime trades including seamen, longshore and marine construction workers, and cruise ship passengers and crew. With more than 100 years combined experience, our attorneys specialize in Maritime Personal Injury, Jones Act, Longshore & Harbor Workers Compensation Act and Cruise Ship Injury.
In 2007, Charles D. Naylor obtained a $55.2 million jury verdict ($5.2M compensatory / $50M punitive) against the now bankrupt DaimlerChrysler for the wrongful death of a longshoreman. In 2009, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court ordered Chrysler to pay a $24 million settlement.
Charles D. Naylor received California Lawyer magazine’s prestigious CLAY Award in 2008, has an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and has been recognized by Southern California Super Lawyers as one of the “top attorneys in Southern California” (2007- 2011). For more information, visit www.NaylorLaw.com.