March 22, 2012
On March 20, 2012, the Supreme Court announced its decision in Roberts v. Sea-Land Services. This case involves the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which provides compensation in cases of disability but caps benefits at twice the national average weekly wage for the fiscal year in which the injured worker is “newly awarded compensation.” The question here was whether the determination as to when the worker is “newly awarded compensation” is affected by the issuance of a compensation order on the worker’s behalf.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Sotomayor, the Court held by a vote of 8-1 that a worker is ”newly awarded compensation” when the worker “first becomes disabled and thereby becomes statutorily entitled to benefits, no matter whether, or when, a compensation order issues on his behalf.” Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Breyer, Alito, and Kagan joined Justice Sotomayor’s opinion. Justice Ginsburg filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.
To discuss the case, we have Rod Sullivan, who is an assistant professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law.