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Bosworth v. Foss Maritime Co.

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii

September 30, 2019

LARRY BOSWORTH, Claimant-Appellant,
FOSS MARITIME COMPANY, Employee-Appellee, and ACCLAIM RISK MANAGEMENT, Insurance Carrier-Appellee


          Larry Bosworth, Claimant-Appellant, self-represented.

          Scott G. Leong, Shawn L.M. Benton, Karolina A. Turska, for Employer-Appellee and Insurance Carrier-Appellee.



          GINOZA, C.J.

         In this appeal, Claimant-Appellant Larry Bosworth (Bosworth), who is self-represented, appeals from the "Decision and Order" (Order Denying Appeal) entered by the State of Hawai'i Labor and Industrial Relations Appeals Board (LIRAB) on March 8, 2016, in favor of Employer-Appellee Foss Maritime Company and Insurance Carrier-Appellee Acclaim Risk Management (collectively, Foss Maritime). The Order Denying Appeal affirmed the decision and order issued by the Director of Labor and Industrial Relations (Director) on October 10, 2014, which, sinter alia, denied Bosworth's claim for workers compensation benefits under Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) Chapter 386 for an alleged injury that he sustained while employed by Foss Maritime.

         From what we can discern, [1] Bosworth contends on appeal that the LIRAB erred by: (1) concluding that the LIRAB lacked jurisdiction under HRS § 386-7 (2015)[2] because Bosworth's work injuries were covered or "provided for" under federal law; and (2) determining that Bosworth was a "seaman" under 46 U.S.C. § 30104 (the Jones Act).[3]

         For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.

         I. Background

         On February 28, 2014, Bosworth filed a claim with the State of Hawai'i Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Disability Compensation Division alleging that on January 11, 2014, he sustained various mental health injuries related to "stress due to management pressure while preforming [sic] duties[.]" Bosworth's claim stated that his occupation with Foss Maritime was as a "Class II Tug Operator", and that his injuries were sustained "on Tug in Harbor."

         On October 10, 2014, the Director entered a written decision finding, inter alia, that at the time of his injury, Bosworth was a "seaman" as contemplated under the Jones Act, and thus his work injury was covered under federal law. The Director, relying on HRS § 386-7, the Jones Act, and Bosworth1s testimony, concluded that Bosworth "does not have a compensable claim as he is not under the jurisdiction of the State of Hawaii and is in the jurisdiction of the Jones Act." The Director thus denied Bosworth's claim for workers' compensation benefits.

         On October 29, 2014, Bosworth appealed the Director's decision to the LIRAB. On October 7, 2015, the LIRAB conducted an evidentiary hearing on Boswowrth's appeal. On March 8, 2016, the LIRAB entered its Order Denying Appeal, concluding, inter alia, that Bosworth was a "seaman" under the Jones Act, and his injury was "provided for" under federal law. The LIRAB thus concluded that it lacked jurisdiction over Bosworth's claim under HRS § 386-7. This appeal follows.

         II. Standard of review

         Appellate Review of a LIRAB decision is governed by HRS § 91-14 (g). Capua v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 117 Hawai'i 439, 444, 184 P.3d 191, 196 (2008). At the time of Bosworth's appeal, HRS § 91-14(g) (2012) provided:

§91-14 Judicial review of contested cases.
(g) Upon review of the record the court may affirm the decision of the agency or remand the case with instructions for further proceedings; or it may reverse or modify the decision and order if the substantial rights of the petitioners may have been prejudiced because the administrative findings, conclusions, decisions, or orders are:
(1) In violation of constitutional or statutory provisions; or
(2) In excess of the statutory authority or jurisdiction of the agency; or
(3) Made upon unlawful procedure; or
(4) Affected by other error of law; or
(5) Clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record; or
(6) Arbitrary, or capricious, or characterized by abuse of discretion or clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion.

         "Under HRS § 91-14 (g), conclusions of law (COLs) are reviewable under subsections (1), (2), and (4); questions regarding procedural defects are reviewable under subsection (3). A COL is not binding on an appellate court and is freely reviewable for its correctness. Thus, the court reviews COLs de novo, under the right/wrong standard." Capua, 117 Hawai'i at 444, 184 P.3d ...

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