United States District Court, District of Columbia
EARL C. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
GEORGE HYMAN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION FEBRUARY 26, 2018 [DKT. # 292,
RICHARD J. LEON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Earl C. Davis ("plaintiff or "Davis"), a
disabled former employee of defendant George Hyman
Construction Company ("George Hyman"), seeks
enforcement of an order governing the obligations of
defendant Liberty Mutual Insurance Company ("Liberty
Mutual") when responding to plaintiffs reimbursement
requests for medical expenses. The sole question remaining in
this decades-old case is whether Liberty Mutual's
responses to three reimbursement requests by Davis-requests
dated March 14, April 3, and November 21, 2001-complied with
prior orders of this Court.
February 9, 2015, this Court referred the case to Magistrate
Judge Robinson "for the purpose of making written
findings" on that question. 02/09/2015 Minute Entry. In
response, Magistrate Judge Robinson received testimony and
evidence during days of evidentiary hearings, waited as both
sides pursued-and were denied-relief regarding various
aspects of the hearings, and reviewed numerous filings on the
question of Liberty Mutual's compliance with the relevant
orders. Magistrate Judge Robinson's admirable efforts
culminated in a Memorandum Opinion and Order dated June 16,
2017. See 6/16/2017 Order [Dkt. #293]; 6/16/2017
Mem. Op. [Dkt. #294]. In her opinion, Magistrate Judge
Robinson rejects a number of Davis's arguments regarding
Liberty Mutual's liability. She concludes, however, that
Liberty Mutual did commit two violations of prior court
orders that required Liberty Mutual to pay Davis $28, 000 in
total fines. See 6/16/2017 Mem. Op. 20, 23.
sides have filed objections to Magistrate Judge
Robinson's memorandum opinion and order. See
Defs.' Obj. to Mem. Op. & Order Dated June 16, 2017
("Defs.' Obj.") [Dkt. #298]; Full Appeal &
Obj. to June 16, 2017 Mem. Op. of Mag. Judge ("Pl.'s
Obj.") [Dkt. # 300]. In addition, in a separate motion
filed prior to the issuance of Magistrate Judge
Robinson's opinion, defendants argue that this entire
action should be dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. See Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Lack of
Jurisdiction [Dkt. # 292]. Upon consideration of the
parties' filings, the remainder of the record, and the
relevant case law, the Court DENIES defendants' motion to
dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, OVERRULES the parties'
objections, and AFFIRMS Magistrate Judge Robinson's
memorandum opinion and order.
thorough recitation of the factual background and lengthy
procedural history of this case can be found in Magistrate
Judge Robinson's memorandum opinion, see
6/16/2017 Mem. Op. 2-9; therefore, I will provide only a
brief summary of the present dispute. Following an on-the-job
injury that occurred while plaintiff was working for George
Hyman, plaintiff was adjudicated to be permanently
disabled-and thus entitled to benefits-under the Longshore
and Marbor Workers' Compensation Act ("the
Act"), 33U.S.C. § 901 et seq.
to an administrative compensation order, plaintiff was
entitled to be reimbursed for certain medical expenses by
George Hyman's insurance company, Liberty Mutual.
Plaintiff, however, suffered many difficulties in dealing
with and receiving timely payment from Liberty Mutual.
See Davis v. U.S. Dep't of Labor, 961 F.Supp.2d
1, 2 (D.D.C. 2012). To address Liberty Mutual's failings,
plaintiff sought enforcement of the administrative
compensation order in the district court. See Id. at
1, 6; see also 33 U.S.C. § 921(a), (d). In an
order dated August 24, 1982 ("1982 Order"), a
district judge previously assigned to this action clarified
"the procedures by which . . . Mr. Davis was to submit
reimbursements to defendant Liberty Mutual" as well as
"the time and format by which Liberty Mutual was to
respond." Davis, 961 F.Supp.2d at 2; see
also 1982 Order [Dkt. #292-8].
two decades later, plaintiff reported that he was still
experiencing difficulties in obtaining reimbursements from
Liberty Mutual. See 11/9/1999 Minute Entry.
Ultimately, after discovery and hearings on the question of
Liberty Mutual's compliance, Magistrate Judge Robinson
issued an order modifying the original 1982 Order.
See 3/15/2001 Order ("2001 Order") [Dkt.
# 50]. In addition to clarifying Liberty
Mutual's response requirements, the 2001 Order set forth
a penalty scheme under which Liberty Mutual would be fined
for delays in complying with its response obligations.
See Id. ¶ 6 ("For every day beyond the 30
days specified in this order . . . that Liberty Mutual fails
to pay in full or file an adequate response to a request for
reimbursement or payment, Liberty Mutual will be liable for a
$ 500 fine. . . ."); see also Davis, 961
F.Supp.2d at 2.
voluminous record of this case indicates, much has occurred
since entry of the 2001 Order. To make a very long story
short, our Circuit has remanded the case for a determination
on one remaining question: "[W]hether Liberty
Mutual's responses" to Davis's "March 14,
April 3, and November 26, 2001" reimbursement requests
"complied with the 2001 order, and if any of them did
not, to impose the fine prescribed by that order."
Davis v. Dep't of Labor, No. 13-5026, at 2 (D.C.
Cir. May 2, 2014) ("Remand Order") [Dkt. #213].
This Court subsequently referred the case to Magistrate Judge
Robinson for the purpose of making written findings on that
question. See 2/9/2015 Minute Order. In a memorandum
opinion and order issued in June 2017, Magistrate Judge
Robinson addressed the question of Liberty Mutual's
liability, concluding that Liberty Mutual committed two
violations of the 2001 Order that obligated the company to
pay $28, 000 in fines to plaintiff. See 6/16/2017
Mem. Op. 20, 23. Both parties object to aspects of Magistrate
Judge Robinson's opinion and order. I now turn to those
objections, ultimately agreeing with Magistrate Judge
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
addressing the merits of the parties' objections to
Magistrate Judge Robinson's memorandum opinion and order,
I must address the threshold jurisdictional issue recently
raised by defendants. Defendants argue that this Court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction because there is no
"unsatisfied final order issued by an ALJ" and thus
no jurisdiction under the Act. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss Lack
of Jurisdiction 1. That is incorrect.
Court and our Circuit have previously explained, 33 U.S.C.
§ 921(d) supplies a district court with jurisdiction to
"enforce compliance with a final compensation order
arising from the LHWCA's administrative process."
Davis, 961 F.Supp.2d at 6. Because there remain
three active disputes over Liberty Mutual's compliance
with the administrative compensation order and this
Court's enforcement orders, Davis remains "entitled
to employ this Court's enforcement jurisdiction under
§ 921(d)." Id.; see also Davis v. U.S.
Dep't of Labor, No. 84-5307, at 2 (D.C. Cir. Nov.
28, 1985) [Dkt. # 292-14] ("We do note, however, that
the August 24, 1984 order is still binding on the appellees.
Should appellant face problems with the timeliness of any
future medical bills, the District Court has jurisdiction to
ensure that its order is obeyed."). It is worth noting,
moreover, that our Circuit remanded the case to this Court
with instructions to "determine whether Liberty
Mutual's responses to the requests dated March 14, April
3, and November 26, 2001, complied with the 2001 order and,
if any of them did not, to impose the fine prescribed by that
order." Remand Order 2. By arguing that this Court lacks
jurisdiction, defendants in effect invite me to conclude that
our Circuit overlooked a fundamental jurisdictional defect
with these proceedings and remanded the case to a court
powerless to render the requested determination. Please.
While I may have tugged on the lion's whiskers from time
to time, I have not, and will not, kick it in the teeth! In
short, defendants' jurisdictional challenge is without