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Transit company held liable for maritime worker's asbestosis expenses


An appeals court has affirmed a decision awarding an employee medical expenses related to his contracting asbestosis in the workplace.

Baltimore-based transportation and logistics company Ramsay Scarlett & Co. Inc. has been found liable for the medical expenses of its employee, 64-year-old Ferdinand Fabre, who was diagnosed with asbestosis in 2011, according to court documents.

The employer was found to be responsible for the expenses under the Longshore Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, according to court documents.

The act provides employment-injury and occupational-disease protection to about 500,000 workers who have been injured or contracted occupational diseases occurring on the navigable waters of the United States or in adjoining areas, and for certain other classes of workers covered by the legislation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Mr. Fabre was employed by Ramsay Scarlett from 1969 to 1991 and contended that he was exposed to asbestos while changing brakes and clutches of several types of equipment at the Port of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a local storage facility known as Sharp Station, which the parties did not dispute.

He filed a claim for medical benefits under the act in December 2011, and an administrative law judge ruled in his favor in September 2013, ordering the employer to pay for all “reasonable and necessary medical expenses,” according to court documents. Ramsay Scarlett appealed the ruling, but it was affirmed by the Benefits Review Board in September 2014, according to the court documents.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed the decision Thursday, finding that the board correctly cited a standard governing the proper scope of review — whether the administrative law judge's findings were supported by substantial evidence and consistent with the law, according to the ruling.

The judge relied on the deposition of Mr. Fabre's treating physician, who made the asbestosis diagnosis and testified that the disease increases the likelihood of developing pneumonia and bronchitis. Ramsay Scarlett argued that Mr. Fabre did not establish a causal link between asbestos exposure and these respiratory infections, as pneumonia is not always caused by asbestosis. But the appeals court deferred to the judge's determination that the doctor's testimony was credible, according to the ruling.

A company spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

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