Schouest, Bamdas, Soshea & BenMaier PLLC Prevails in Delayed- Onset PTSD Claim

HOUSTON – SBSB Eastham attorneys Kimberly Rahn and Melissa Anderson secured a significant defense victory for their client after an administrative law judge for the U.S Department of Labor issued an order granting a favorable Motion for Partial Summary Decision in a delayed-onset PTSD claim. Following the entering of that order, the firm also prevailed on its Response to the claimant’s Motion to Reconsider.

The case involved an employee of a major multinational engineering and construction firm who had worked on a military base in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2011. Seven years after she left that job, the woman claimed that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder based on trauma she witnessed while working in Afghanistan. She filed a claim against her employer and its insurance carrier for compensation and medical benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and the Defense Base Act.

SBSB Eastham successfully argued that their client was entitled to a summary decision and asserted that the former employee’s claim for compensation benefits should be time-barred because it did not comply with notice and filing provisions under Section 12 and Section 13 of the Act.

In a 12-page opinion, the court agreed with SBSB Eastham, affirming that the claim for compensation was not timely filed within two years of her awareness of injury and disability. The court also found substantial and undisputed evidence that the employee was aware of her mental health condition and the relatedness to her employment when she left in 2011.

SBSB Eastham also defeated a Motion to Reconsider after the employee requested the court to vacate its order and set the case for trial. Ms. Rahn and Ms. Anderson delivered a winning 16-page Response to that Motion, arguing that the employee’s Motion to Reconsider did not satisfy the legal requirements needed for a court to reconsider its decision.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision on this matter and believe this ruling likely will affect how courts will handle delayed PTSD claims involving similar facts moving forward,” said SBSB Eastham partner Ms. Rahn.

The case is Yashica Smith v. Fluor Federal Global Projects, Incorporated and Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania and Director, office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, OWCP No.: 06-316043.