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Judicial Review in Workers’ Compensation Cases Discussed in Gilmore v. Director, Department of Labor

Apr 9, 2012 - Workers' Compensation/Work Injury by

The law surrounding workers’ compensation (WC) for federal employees is very complex. In many cases, a federal employee’s initial application for WC can mean the difference between receiving benefits or not. This is why it is so important to complete your workers’ compensation petition properly.
Our experienced Tuscaloosa Workers’ Compensation Attorneys understand how important this is, and we can help protect your rights at each stage of the process.
Gilmore v. Director, Department of Labor is an 11th Circuit workers’ compensation case that centers on jurisdiction and the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). “FECA is a comprehensive and exclusive workers’ compensation scheme for federal civilian employees who are injured or killed while performing their work duties. ” Gilmore v. Director, Department of Labor, No. 11-12747 (11th Cir. Feb. 6, 2012); see also Nobel v. United States, 216 F.3d 1229, 1234 (11 Cir. 2000).

The benefits awarded under this program include wage-loss benefits, monetary benefits, medical benefits and vocational rehabilitation. Additionally, there is a provision which provides benefits to dependents of an employee who died because of work-related injuries. The Secretary of Labor (Secretary) is responsible for deciding all of the questions surrounding the FECA but has delegated this authority to the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program (OWCP).

All U.S. civilian employees who are paid with appropriated funds are covered by this FECA. With the addition of certain amendments coverage is extended to volunteers from the Peace Corps and VISTA; federal petit or grand jurors; Civil Air Patrol volunteer members, cadets of the Reserve Officer Training Corp; and non-federal law enforcement officers.

In order to comply with the requirements of the FECA, the injured employee or the deceased employee’s estate must provide medical and factual evidence that the work accident occurred; that there was a diagnosis of a medical condition associated with the work related accident and injuries; the employee was performing their job duties when the work related accident occurred; and there must be a causal link between the work related injury and/or accident and the medical diagnosis.

If you are a federal employee who has been involved in a work-related injury, you must immediately notify your employer. Then, you must complete a written report specified by the Department of Labor and furnish this to your supervisor. If your injury is traumatic and you need further medical treatment, you must first obtain authorization for the additional treatment from your supervisor. Additionally, if you do suffer a traumatic injury, you must furnish your supervisor with medical evidence of your disability within days of your petition for pay continuation.

It is important to get the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to understand what the statute of limitations is in your case, and other critical factors. The FECA sets time limits by which certain actions must be taken.

Gilmore is important because it reminds the reader that any decisions made by the Secretary or any appointed Board cannot be reviewed by an outside court. The only exceptions to this rule is where there is a clear statute that has been violated by Secretary or any appointed Board and where there is a valid constitutional claim against the process of determination. This is very important because your initial application for benefits under FECA must be done correctly in order for you to receive the benefits you deserve.

Gilmore (plaintiff) was a federal employee who was injured on the job. He applied for benefits consistent with FECA. The Workers’ Compensation Board (Board) was presented with all of the factual and medical evidence. Upon the review of this information, the Board made a decision that the plaintiff was not entitled to back pay and interest. Plaintiff then argued that because of the rejection by the Board, he suffered a deprivation of property. He further contends that this deprivation of property was a violation of his substantive and procedural due process rights therefore invoking the constitutional exception to the general rule of judicial review. Therefore he sought the review of the Boards decision by the Eleventh Circuit.

The court held that the Board’s rejection of plaintiff’s petition was based on a reconsideration of the facts presented and therefore, immune from judicial review. Furthermore, the court said that the necessary requirements of due process are that the party be provided with notice of any impending hearing and an opportunity to be heard at a “meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.” Plaintiff had an opportunity to present his arguments at the appropriate time; therefore, plaintiff could not show that he was deprived of his right to notice or a hearing.

For the reasons discussed above, the court found that the judicial system did not have jurisdiction over the case and the case was dismissed.

In federal workers’ compensation cases, the Board and Director responsible for making a determination on your claim have a significant amount of power. Having the requisite information presented in the proper manner is essential to receiving the benefits you are entitled to.

Additional Resources:

Gilmore v. Director, Department of Labor, No. 11-12747 (11th Cir. Feb. 6, 2012).

Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), 5 U.S.C. §1801.

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