Price v. Stevedoring Services

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Workers Compensation
  • Date Filed: 09-04-2012
  • Case #: 08-71719
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: En banc; Chief Judge Alex Kozinski for the Court; Dissent by Circuit Judge O'Scannlain
  • Full Text Opinion

The litigating position of the Director of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, which interprets the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, is not entitled to Chevron deference.

Arel Price appealed the decision of the Benefits Review Board regarding the amount of workers’ compensation benefits received and the amount and type of interest applied to past due benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”). Price named the Director of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (“Director”) as a respondent. The Director filed a brief urging the Court to accept the Board’s decision. The Court did not apply Chevron deference to the Board’s decision, because “the Board is not a policy-making entity.” The Ninth Circuit previously has applied Chevron deference to the Director’s litigating position interpreting the LHWCA. However, the Court determined that granting Chevron deference to an agency to interpret statutes that it must administer leads to inconsistent interpretations circumventing formal rule-making procedures. Therefore, the Court overruled its precedents that granted Chevron deference to litigating positions interpreting a statute. Next, the Court addressed Skidmore deference, which is applied when an agency has exhibited thorough consideration, valid reasoning, consistency, and persuasion for lack of power to control. The Court determined that the Board was not entitled to this deference either, because it does not administer the LHWCA. The Director is entitled to Skidmore deference on the proper interest rate for meeting the previously-listed factors. However, the Court declined to apply Skidmore deference to the Director’s determination of whether compound or simple interest applies, because the Director’s argument was inconsistent with past applications of the statute. The Court upheld the lower interest rate of 28 U.S.C. § 1961, but reversed the decision to apply simple interest rather than compound because it is inconsistent with § 1961(b). AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part, and REMANDED.

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