U.S. Industries/Federal Sheet Metal, Inc. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

PETITIONER: U.S. Industries/Federal Sheet Metal, Inc.
RESPONDENT: Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
LOCATION: Haag Hall at University of Missouri – Kansas City

DOCKET NO.: 80-518
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 455 US 608 (1982)
ARGUED: Oct 06, 1981
DECIDED: Mar 23, 1982

ADVOCATES:
James F. Green - for respondents
Richard W. Galiher, Jr. - for petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for U.S. Industries/Federal Sheet Metal, Inc. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 23, 1982 in U.S. Industries/Federal Sheet Metal, Inc. v. Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

Warren E. Burger:

Justice Stevens has the judgments and opinions to announce in two cases.

John Paul Stevens:

The first case that I have is No. 80-518, U.S. Industries against the Director of Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, the Department of Labor.

This workmen's compensation case arising out of an incident in the District of Columbia where the workmen's compensation law is governed by the Longshoremen's and Harbor Worker's Compensation Act.

The respondent awoke in the early morning of November 20, 1975 with a very severe pain in his neck, shoulders, and arms which were later attributed by doctors to an exacerbation of an arthritic condition.

He retained a lawyer and filed a workmen's compensation claim in which he alleged that he suffered an accident the preceding day at work while working on duct work and that that accident was what gave rise to his injury.

There was a hearing held in which the hearing examiner concluded that no accident had in fact occurred and that the testimony of the respondent was not to be believed.

The Benefits Review Board affirmed the denial of the compensation and he then appealed to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia which reversed and held that even though he failed to prove that the particular accident on which he relied had occurred that nevertheless the pain that he suffered in the morning when he awoke at home was an injury within the meaning of the statute to which a presumption of compensability apply and held that therefore the employer had a duty to rebut the possibility that the pain arose as a result of something that happened at work.

We granted a petition for certiorari and we now reverse and conclude that the Court of Appeals made two errors in its disposition of the case, first, by applying the statutory presumption of compensability to a claim that the respondent had not himself advanced but rather was not made properly in accordance with the statute.

And secondly, that the Court of Appeals did not correctly define the term injury which under the statute refers to harm that arises out of in the course of employment and the Court of Appeals rather treated the injury as though it was the harm that happened at home.

And therefore, in the opinion we filed with the clerk, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Justice Brennan and Justice Marshall -- Justice Brennan has filed a dissent which Justice Marshall -- in which Justice Marshall concurs.

Justice O'Connor took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.