Second attempt at benefits still falls short, still wrong forum
Larson v. Ching, No. 08-537 (D. Hawaii 10/05/09).
Ruling: The U.S. District Court, District of Hawaii dismissed a worker's second amended complaint for benefits from the state special compensation fund because he appealed to the wrong forum.
What it means:
In Hawaii, the director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has exclusive jurisdiction to hear workers' compensation claims. The director also has exclusive jurisdiction to hear claims that a worker is entitled to funds from Hawaii's special injury fund.
A worker who was struck by lightning sued the director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations for benefits from the state's special compensation fund. He alleged the director violated Hawaii's workers' compensation law by failing to provide him with prompt and proper compensation. This was the second amended complaint the worker filed alleging he was entitled to benefits from the fund. The District Court had dismissed his first amended complaint as being "utterly confusing" and failing to state a claim for relief. The District Court dismissed the worker's second amended complaint because Hawaii's law specifies that a worker must appeal an adverse decision issued by the director to the Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board, not the District Court. Therefore, it did not have jurisdiction to hear his claim and granted the director's motion to dismiss.
The worker also asserted he was subjected to discrimination when the director failed to reasonably accommodate his disability by paying the worker from the special compensation fund. The District Court held that even if the worker was qualified or eligible to receive money from the fund, his claim had to be dismissed because only the director has the discretion and jurisdiction to decide whether he was entitled to money from that fund. It therefore dismissed his disability discrimination claim as well.
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November 9, 2009
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