Levy on Applying Defense Base Act to Civilian Employees Injured Overseas

Hostilities in Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, and most recently Iraq and other countries in the Middle East have caused many employers concern and uncertainty over workers’ compensation exposures to employees working in those parts of the world. This commentary, written by Roger A. Levy, who is Of Counsel to Laughlin, Falbo, Levy & Moresi, San Francisco, and specializes in the defense of cases brought under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, examines the Defense Base Act, one of the primary federal statutes that addresses these matters. Levy concludes that the Defense Base Act is being applied under circumstances that were not contemplated by its authors in 1941 because the current practice of the military is to outsource a great deal of its traditional non-combat work to private contractors, thus causing the employees of the contractors to come under the protection of the Defense Base Act. He also asserts that the current “fast-track” policy for claims arising in Afghanistan and Iraq prevents proper pre-trial discovery for such claims.

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