Bath Iron Works Corp. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

PETITIONER: Bath Iron Works Corp. et al.
RESPONDENT: Director, Office Of Workers' Compensation Programs, United States Department Of Labor, et al.
LOCATION: Superior Court of the District of Columbia

DOCKET NO.: 91-871
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 506 US 153 (1993)
ARGUED: Nov 04, 1992
DECIDED: Jan 12, 1993

ADVOCATES:
Christopher J. Wright - on behalf of the Federal Respondent
Kevin M. Gillis - on behalf of the Petitioners
Ronald W. Lupton - on behalf of the Respondent employee

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Bath Iron Works Corp. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 04, 1992 in Bath Iron Works Corp. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 12, 1993 in Bath Iron Works Corp. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 91-871, Bath Iron Works Corporation versus the Director of the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs will be announced by Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

We granted certiorari in this case to resolve the conflict in the Circuits over the proper interpretation of certain provisions of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act relating to claims for hearing loss.

There are essentially three systems for compensating partially disabled workers under the statute two of which are at issue in this case.

The first system provides for compensation for claimants who have separate statutorily scheduled injuries one of which is hearing loss.

The third system provides for compensation for retirees who suffer from latent occupational diseases that do not become disabling until after retirement.

The question presented in this case is whether a claimant who discovers after retirement that he suffers from a work related hearing loss should be compensated under the first system because loss of hearing is a scheduled injury or under the third system because he did not become aware of the disabling condition until after his retirement.

In the decision below the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that the benefits in such cases should be calculated under first system while on similar facts the Court of Appeals for the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits have applied the provisions of the third system.

Relying primarily on the plan meeting of the statutory language and the Director's undisputed characterization of occupation hearing loss, we now affirm.

The opinion of the Court is unanimous.