Jan 9 2017

Trial Verdict 2017-1: Morrison Mahoney Partner Edward Murphy

Morrison Mahoney Partner Ted Murphy recently won a defense verdict for our client, a large naval defense contractor. The plaintiff brought an action under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act for tinnitus (a buzzing sound in his ears sometimes associated with exposure to loud noise) that allegedly disrupted his sleep and adversely affected his concentration and speech. After closure of the evidence, the federal administrative law judge hearing the case denied the claim on the basis that we had proven that the plaintiff had a ratable hearing loss in only one of his ears. This was despite problematic findings by both parties’ medical experts that the plaintiff had a high frequency hearing loss in both ears due to his noise exposure while working in the metal trades. The adverse expert opinions we had to overcome were supported by pure tone audiological testing and the formula in the AMA Guidelines used to convert monaural losses to binaural ones as a matter of course. In denying the claim, the judge adopted our argument that (1) an award of tinnitus is appropriate only where there is a ratable loss (i.e., hearing loss affecting the frequencies used for understanding speech) in both ears and (2) that it is legally inappropriate to convert a monaural loss to a binaural one despite the recommendation to do so in the Guidelines. The case is significant to our client as both it and its partners in the ship construction industry have many similar cases proceeding to trial that are now subject to dismissal.

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