United States District Court, D. Columbia
RAYMOND W. STEPHENS, JR., Plaintiff,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Defendant
Raymond W. Stephens, Plaintiff, Pro se, Sarasota, FL.
U.S. Department of Labor, Defendant: Damon William Taaffe,
LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR THE DISTRICT OF
COLUMBIA, Washington, DC USA.
BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge.
Raymond W. Stephens, Jr. filed suit against the United States
Department of Labor (DOL), alleging that DOL acted in an
arbitrary and capricious manner when it denied his petition
to reopen his claim for benefits under Part E of the Energy
Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of
2000, 42 U.S.C. § § 7384 et seq.
initiated litigation against the DOL in 2008. Compl. ¶
4; Stephens v. U.S. Dep't of Labor, 571
F.Supp.2d 186, 186 (D.D.C. 2008), aff'd, 384
Fed.Appx. 5 (D.C. Cir. 2010). In his first pro se
complaint, Stephens asserted that the DOL wrongfully denied
him benefits under the EEOICPA, a federal law that "
provides benefits to individuals with illnesses caused by
exposure to radiation and other toxic substances during the
course of their work for the United States Department of
Energy ('DOE') and some of DOE's contractors and
subcontractors." Stephens, 571 F.Supp.2d at
189. The district court found that the denial of benefits was
not arbitrary and capricious, because the facility where
Stephens was employed did not qualify as a " DOE
facility" under the statute. Id. at 189, 195;
42 U.S.C. § 7384l(12). Since that ruling,
Stephens has fought to uncover new evidence that would prove
that the DOE had a " proprietary interest" in his
former employer, the Loral American Beryllium Company, which
would qualify it as " DOE facility," and entitle
him to benefits under Part E. Id. at 189; 42 U.S.C.
March 2012, Stephens petitioned to reopen his claim before
the DOL, and the agency denied his request. Compl. ¶ 6.
After Stephens acquired further information through a Freedom
of Information Act request, he submitted another petition to
reopen his Part E claim in October 2014. Compl. ¶ 10. On
December 2, 2014, DOL denied that petition as well, Compl.
¶ 12, and this lawsuit followed.
the agency's denial of Stephens's petition to reopen
his claim does not constitute a reviewable agency action, and
since the decision to reopen is committed to the agency's
discretion, the Court will grant defendant's motion to
Statutory and Regulatory Background
EEOICPA was enacted to compensate workers who suffer from
illnesses related to their exposure to radioactive substances
at government weapons-production facilities. 42 U.S.C. §
§ 7384, 7384d(b). The statute provides benefits to
employees of the Department of Energy as well as of certain
of its contractors and subcontractors. 42 U.S.C. §
§ 7384d(c), 7384 l (7). As passed in 2000, the
statute provided in Part B that covered employees would
receive a $150,000 lump-sum payment, in addition to medical
benefits. 42 U.S.C. § 7384s-t. President Clinton
designated the DOL as the agency responsible for
administering the compensation program. Exec. Order No.
13,179; 65 Fed.Reg. 77487 (Dec. 7, 2000).
President's 2000 Executive Order directed DOL to "
promulgate regulations for the administration of the
Program." Exec. Order No. 13,179; 65 Fed.Reg. 77487
(Dec. 7, 2000). In 2002, DOL issued final regulations
pursuant to the Executive Order. See 67 Fed.Reg.
78874-01 (Dec. 26, 2002). Those regulations provide that an
employee may file a claim for benefits under the statute with
the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs ("
OWCP" ) of the DOL. 20 C.F.R. § §
30.100(a)--101(a). The OWCP issues a recommended decision on
a claim and forwards it to the Final Adjudication Branch
(" FAB" ). 20 C.F.R. § 30.300. The claimant
may object to OWCP's recommended decision, and may
request a hearing before the FAB. Id. The FAB may
then issue a final decision, which is subject to judicial
review. 20 C.F.R. § § 30.316, 30.319(d).
the FAB issues its final decision, a claimant may file a
request to reopen the claim, " provided that the
claimant also submits new evidence of either covered
employment or exposure to a toxic substance . . . ." 20
C.F.R. § 30.320(b). " If the Director [for Energy
Employees Occupational Illness Compensation] concludes that
the evidence submitted or matter identified in support of the
claimant's request is material to the claim, the Director
will reopen the claim . . . ." 20 C.F.R. §
30.320(b)(1). The regulations provide that the "
decision whether or not to reopen a claim under this section
is solely within the discretion of the Director for Energy
Employees Occupational Illness Compensation and is not
reviewable." 20 C.F.R. § 30.320(c).
EEOICPA was amended in 2004 to add Part E, which provides
additional coverage for certain DOE contractors for permanent
impairment and/or wage loss due to a covered illness that
resulted from work-related exposure to a toxic substance at a
DOE facility. 42 U.S.C. § 7385s; see H.R. 4200,
118 Stat. 1811 (2004). Under Part E, a " person
adversely affected or aggrieved by a final decision of the
Secretary under this part may review that order in the United
States district court . . . ." 42 U.S.C. 7385s-6a.
Factual Background & ...