Potomac Elec. Power Co. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

PETITIONER: Potomac Elec. Power Co.
RESPONDENT: Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
LOCATION: Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club

DOCKET NO.: 79-816
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 449 US 268 (1980)
ARGUED: Oct 08, 1980
DECIDED: Dec 15, 1980

ADVOCATES:
Elinor Hadley Stillman - for respondent Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
Elinor Hadley Stillman - on behalf of the Federal Respondent
Leslie Scherr - on behalf of Respondent Terry M. Cross, Jr
Richard W. Turner - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Potomac Elec. Power Co. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 08, 1980 in Potomac Elec. Power Co. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - December 15, 1980 in Potomac Elec. Power Co. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

Warren E. Burger:

The judgments and opinion of the court in 79-816, Potomac Electric Power against the Director will be announced by Mr. Justice Stevens.1

John Paul Stevens:

This case comes to us by writ of certiorari from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

It involves the proper measure of compensation for a worker who's covered by the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.

That Act applies to employers in the District of Columbia by reason of a special act of Congress.

The employee involved in this case suffered a severe injury to his knee which was classified as a permanent partial disability.

The statute contains a schedule of compensation to be awarded for various kinds of physical injuries, one of which is the lost of the use of a leg, and under that schedule this employee is entitled to a specific measured compensation.

His injury is just partial.

He re-continues to work but the -- the statutory scheduled compensation is less than he would receive if he brought -- made his claim under a provision that allows compensation for other cases, cases not specifically listed on the -- on the schedule and he sought recovery as -- and other case which would allow him a substantially larger recovery maybe by a percentage of his lost of earnings and the fixed amount pursuant to the schedule.

The Court of Appeals held that he was entitled to this alternative measure of recovery and the question for us to decide was whether that was a proper reading of the statute.

As we read the statute, the Congress has provided the other cases to cover those which are not on -- on the list and not as an alternative measure of recovery for those for which is a specific recovery is -- is provided.

For that reason, although it may well be true that the statute is in need of reexamination because it's a rather old schedule, we have decided to reverse the judgment the Court of Appeals and we explained our reasons in some detail in an opinion filed with the clerk today.

Justice Blackman has filed a dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Justice Stevens.