and 921, as required by 33 U.S.C. § 921(d), supra.
Plaintiff is barred from proceeding under 33 U.S.C. § 921(b) which permits injunction suits against the deputy commissioner on the ground that a compensation order is 'not in accordance with law,' because the 30-day period for such suits, 33 U.S.C. § 921(a), has long since expired.
Plaintiff is also unable to proceed under 33 U.S.C. § 918(a), which provides a remedy for the disabled employee (not the employer) in the event that the employer defaults in his payments under any award. Section 918 gives the disabled employee the right, 'within one year after such default,' to apply to the deputy commissioner for a supplementary order declaring the amount of default, and the deputy commissioner then must make an investigation, give notice, hold a hearing on such claim, and issue a supplementary order if such is warranted.
By the terms of the above statutory provisions, plaintiff is barred from proceeding by way of the present suit, and the court has no jurisdiction to entertain the action. The statutory scheme clearly puts upon the employer (and carrier, if there is one) the burden of examining the validity of claims for medical payments as these claims are presented. The carrier cannot wait for over four years and then come into court and contest the validity of claims which it has long since paid. A good faith refusal to pay the claims at the time presented, however, would place upon the disabled employee the burden of going forward, under procedures such as those outlined in 33 U.S.C. §§ 918(a) and 921(c). Thus a timely investigation and a timely refusal to pay would not have left plaintiff without a remedy. Plaintiff simply waited too long, and its suit is thus barred as one to 'set aside' a compensation award for a past period.
The Court's conclusion that there is no judicial jurisdiction over plaintiff's claim is reinforced by the procedure for seeking a modification of a compensation award. 33 U.S.C. § 922 provides that upon the deputy commissioner's
'own initiative, or upon the application of any party in interest, on the ground of a change in conditions or because of a mistake in a determination of fact by the deputy commissioner, the deputy commissioner may, at any time prior to one year after the date of the last payment of compensation, * * *'
follow certain procedures for investigation and hearing, and then issue a new order. Thus the ground that the defendant Brooke herein no longer needs, and is no longer getting, institutional or medical care or any of the other types of medical payments allowed under 33 U.S.C. § 907(a), supra, would be the proper subject of an application for a modification of the compensation award. Even in such a case, however, the statute specifically prevents any new order from affecting any compensation previously paid, except that any past payments deemed under the new order (which can date back to the time of injury) to have been excessive can be deducted from future payments as they come due. Thus the statute provides plaintiff with a direct remedy -- in the Bureau of Workmen's Compensation, not in a court. The statute also specifically bars any direct recovery of past amounts paid before the modification took effect. Initial determination by the Bureau of Workmen's Compensation, and finality of payment, are thus two important policies of the Act which apply directly to plaintiff's present suit.
In conformity with these policies, and with the language of 33 U.S.C. § 921(d), this Court must hold that plaintiff's complaint should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter.
Plaintiff argues that the court has jurisdiction over defendant Brooke's person and estate by virtue of Section 21-301, D.C.Code, which gives the court 'full power and authority to superintend and direct the affairs of persons non compos mentis * * *.' Such authority, of course, is undoubted, but it does not create jurisdiction over a type of claim specifically barred by the Compensation Act. If defendant Brooke could be sued, then her Committee could also be sued. But the fact that a person has been adjudged mentally incompetent is obviously no ground for considering this suit any differently from a similar suit against any other disabled employee.
Defendants' motion to dismiss will be granted.