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Employer's Burden of Proof Addressed in LHWCA Disabilities Benefits Case

By FindLaw Staff on March 18, 2010 4:15 PM

In Bath Iron Works Corp. v. Fields, No. 08-2235, the court addressed an employer's burden of rebutting a presumption under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) section 20(a), which provides that certain disabilities are presumed to be work-related in absence of substantial evidence to the contrary. The employer, a ship manufacturing facility, argued that the Benefits Review Board erred in awarding disability benefits to the employee-plaintiff as claiming that it produced substantial evidence to rebut the statutory presumption. 

As stated in the decision: "In the context of section 20(a), the substantial evidence standard requires the employer to introduce such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a finding that workplace conditions did not cause the accident or injury."

Thus, because the Board found that the employer did not address the cause of the relevant injury within the meaning of the LHWCA, it was correct to conclude that defendant's evidence was legally insufficient to overcome the statutory presumption of causation between the plaintiff's working conditions and his pain. 

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