Bloomer v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

PETITIONER: Bloomer
RESPONDENT: Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
LOCATION: E.L. Aaron & Co., Inc.

DOCKET NO.: 78-1418
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

CITATION: 445 US 74 (1980)
ARGUED: Dec 04, 1979
DECIDED: Mar 03, 1980

ADVOCATES:
Alan C. Rassner - on behalf of the petitioner
Douglas A. Boeckmann - on behalf of the respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Bloomer v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 04, 1979 in Bloomer v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 03, 1980 in Bloomer v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company

Warren E. Burger:

The judgement and opinion of the Court in Bloomer versus Liberty Mutual Insurance Company will be announced by Mr. Justice Marshall.

Thurgood Marshall:

This case is here on writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, an insured longshoreman may receive compensation claims from the stevedore and then bring a negligence action against owner of the vessel on which the injury occurred.

The longshoreman's recovery from the ship owner is subject to the stevedore's lien in the amount of the compensation payments.

The question presented in this case is whether the stevedore's lien must be reduced by a proportionate share of the longshoreman's expenses in obtaining recovery from the ship owner or whether the ship stevedore is instead entitled to be reimbursed for the full amount of the compensation payments.

The petitioner was injured during the course of his employment as a longshoreman and received $17,000 in compensation from the respondent, Mutual Insurance Company, the carrier of Workers' Compensation for petitioner's employer.

Thereafter, the petitioner brought a negligence action against the owner of the vessel on which his injury occurred.

Petitioner and the ship owner settled for $60,000 and respondent intervened into the action asserting that he was entitled to full reimbursement of its compensation payments.

Petitioner agreed that respondent should not receive all of its compensation payments but that respondent should instead be required to pay a proportionate share of petitioner's expenses of suit including attorney's fees.

Petitioner, a reason that since part of the recovery from the shipowner would be returned to respondent equity required the respondent bear portion of the expenses of obtaining that recovery.

The District Court rejected petitioner's argument.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed.

We granted certiorari to resolve this recurring question on which the Courts of Appeals have divided.

For reasons stated in detail in our opinion filed with the clerk today, we affirmed the language structure and history of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act and say that that demonstrates that Congress intended that the stevedore should recover the full amount of its compensation payment and that the stevedore should not be required to bear share of the longshoreman's expenses of suit.

Mr. Justice Blackmun has filed a dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice Marshall.