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BANKS v. CHICAGO GRAIN TRIMMERS ASSN.

decided: April 1, 1968.

BANKS
v.
CHICAGO GRAIN TRIMMERS ASSN., INC., ET AL.



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT.

Warren, Black, Douglas, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, Fortas; Marshall took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Stewart

[ 390 U.S. Page 460]

 MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.

On January 30, 1961, shortly after returning home from work, the petitioner's husband suffered a fall that resulted in his death on February 12. On February 20, 1961, the petitioner on behalf of herself and her three minor children filed a claim against her husband's employer,*fn1 the respondent, for compensation death benefits under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. 44 Stat. 1424, 33 U. S. C. §§ 901-950. The petitioner alleged that her husband's fall on January 30 had resulted from a work-connected injury suffered on January 26. A hearing was held before a Department of Labor Deputy Commissioner; and on June 8, 1961, the Deputy Commissioner rejected the petitioner's claim for failure to establish that her husband's death had resulted from a work-connected injury.*fn2 The petitioner did not

[ 390 U.S. Page 461]

     bring an action in District Court to set aside the Deputy Commissioner's ruling. 33 U. S. C. § 921. Some time after the Deputy Commissioner's decision, the petitioner discovered an eyewitness to a work-connected injury suffered by her husband on January 30, the same day as his fall at home. On August 22, 1961, the petitioner filed a second compensation action against the respondent -- this time alleging that the fall resulted from an injury suffered on January 30.

On September 8, 1961, the petitioner began a wrongful-death action in the Northern District of Illinois against a third party, the Norris Grain Company, alleging that her husband's fall resulted from the same January 30 injury. On May 3, 1963, a jury rendered a verdict of $30,000 for the petitioner in that lawsuit. The grain company moved for a new trial, and the trial judge ruled that the motion would be granted unless the petitioner consented to a remittitur of $11,000. On May 16, 1963, without consulting the respondent, the petitioner accepted the remittitur. Judgment was entered for $19,000.

On August 29, 1963, a hearing on the petitioner's second compensation action commenced. On January 27, 1964, the Deputy Commissioner entered findings of fact and an award for the petitioner. The respondent brought an action in District Court to set the award aside. The District Court affirmed, but the Court of Appeals reversed. 369 F.2d 344. We granted certiorari to consider questions concerning the administration of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. 389 U.S. 813.

The Court of Appeals held that the petitioner's second compensation action was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. The petitioner contends that that doctrine

[ 390 U.S. Page 462]

     is displaced in this case by the operation of § 22 of the Act,*fn3 which provides:

"Upon his own initiative, or upon the application of any party in interest, on the ground of a change in conditions or because of a mistake in a determination of fact by the deputy commissioner, the deputy commissioner may, at any time prior to one year after the date of the last payment of compensation, whether or not a compensation order has been issued, or at any time prior to one year after the rejection of a claim, review a compensation case in accordance with the procedure prescribed [for original claims], and in accordance with such section issue a new compensation order which may terminate, continue, reinstate, increase, or decrease such compensation, or award compensation." 33 U. S. C. § 922. (Emphasis added.)

The petitioner asserts that her second compensation action came under § 22 because it challenged a "determination of fact by the deputy commissioner" in her original compensation action -- namely, the finding that her husband's fall did not result from a work-connected injury. The respondent argues that "a mistake in a determination of fact" in § 22 refers only to clerical errors and matters concerning an employee's disability, not to matters concerning an employer's liability. Conceding that nothing in the ...


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