Wilson v. Dir., Off. of Workers’ Comp. Programs

The 3rd Circuit appears to have closed out 2020 with a bang: it changed the style of its opinions. It’s first published opinion under the new format is Wilson v. Dir., Off. of Workers’ Comp. Programs. That case deals with the hot-button issue of what constitutes “navigable waters” under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. §§ 901–50. Here, the appellant suffered hearing damage while working on construction on the Lower Passaic River. He filed for workers compensation under the LHWCA but was denied by the ALJ because he did not establish that his injury occurred on “navigable waters”. The 3rd Circuit initially held that the claimant initially has the burden of proving the “situs” of the injury. The Court went on to hold that “[a] waterway, however, is navigable in fact simply if it is capable of sustaining any type of interstate or foreign commerce.” Demonstrating current commercial use is relevant, but not necessary. Here, the ALJ misconstrued the definition, thus the 3rd Circuit reversed and remanded.

Wilson