Third Circuit Affirms Denial of Longshore Benefits

Claimant alleged that he injured his wrist and then, in a second incident, his shoulder, spine and back.  He returned to work after each incident.  Following a hearing, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Romano denied benefits, concluding that (1) the wrist and shoulder conditions were not work-related, and (2) the spine and back conditions were work-related but not physically disabling.  The BRB reviewed the ALJ’s decision and remanded for further consideration of the wrist and shoulder conditions.  ALJ Romano’s decision remained the same.  Following a brief appeal attempt, the Claimant presented a Section 22 modification claim to ALJ Janice Bullard, who determined that Claimant could not establish either a mistake in fact or a change in condition, which are alternative requirements for a successful modification request.  The BRB affirmed and Claimant appealed to the Third Circuit, which also affirmed after finding “substantial evidence for the denial of modification.”

The Third Circuit first addressed Claimant’s wrist injury.  It refused to disturb ALJ Romano’s finding that the Employer rebutted the wrist claim; and it refused to disturb ALJ Bullard’s decision that the evidence did not support the allegation that Claimant’s post-injury wrist surgery was work-related.  In fact, Claimant’s “doctor could not correlate [Claimant’s] wrist condition to his work injury.”

As for employability, the Third Circuit determined that Claimant could not establish an inability to work.  The Employer offered Claimant light-duty employment “to indulge his complaints,” which complied with doctor-ordered work restrictions.  Plus, Claimant “voluntarily abandoned this suitable work by resigning for reasons unconnected to his work injury.”

Moffit v. Metro Machine of PA, No. 12-1381, slip op., 2012 WL 2560517 (3d Cir. 2012)