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Hammond v. United States

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division

October 20, 2015

James Reilly Hammond, as Personal Representative for the Estate of James W. Hammond, Plaintiff,
v.
United States of America and United States Department of Labor, Defendants

          For James Reilly Hammond, Personal Representative for the Estate of James W Hammond personal representative Hammond, James W, Plaintiff: Tom Young, Jr, LEAD ATTORNEY, Whetstone Myers Perkins and Young, Aiken, SC.

         For United States of America, The, United States Department of Labor, The, Defendants: Barbara Murcier Bowens, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorneys Office, Columbia, SC.

          OPINION

Page 437

         J Michelle Childs, United States District Judge.

         FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

         Plaintiff James Reilly Hammond (" Plaintiff" ), as Personal Representative for the Estate of James W. Hammond (" James Hammond" ), filed this declaratory judgment action against Defendants United States of America (the " Government" ) and the United States Department of Labor (" DOL" ) (collectively " Defendants" ) seeking a declaration by the court that his father's estate should be awarded $125,000.00 compensation by the DOL under Part E of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (" EEOICPA" ), 42 U.S.C. § § 7384-7385s-15. (ECF No. 1.)

         On March 19, 2013, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), and for Failure to State a Claim for which Relief May Be Granted, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 8.) The court denied both motions on March 27, 2014.[1] (ECF No. 15.) Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a Memorandum of Law in Support of Declaratory Relief. (ECF No. 30.) Defendants filed a Brief in Response. (ECF No. 35.) Plaintiff filed a Reply Memorandum (ECF No. 37) and Defendants filed a Sur-Reply (ECF No. 38). On August 26, 2015, the court held a hearing. (ECF Nos. 43, 45.)

         After considering all of the evidence and arguments of counsel, the court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

         I. FINDINGS OF FACT

         Unless stated otherwise, the parties have stipulated to the following recitation of facts:

         1. Plaintiff is the son of James Hammond. James Hammond and his wife, Ida W. Hammond (" Ida Hammond" ), both worked at the Savannah River Site. Ida Hammond developed bladder cancer. On January 4, 2012, she filed a Form EE-1 Claim for benefits under the EEOICPA for her bladder cancer condition. Ida Hammond died on March 25, 2012. On April 6, 2012, James Hammond filed a claim for survivor benefits under the EEOICPA.

         2. The DOL knew that James Hammond was terminal and had acknowledged that it would need to " expedite processing" of his file.[2]

         3. On or around April 25, 2012, the DOL issued a Notice of Recommended Decision awarding James Hammond $150,000.00 in benefits under Part B of the EEOICPA and $125,000.00 in benefits under Part E. The total award was $275,000.00.

         4. James Hammond signed a waiver on April 25, 2012, waiving his right to object to the April 25, 2012 Notice of Recommended Decision. Accordingly, on April 26, 2012, the DOL issued its Notice of Final Decision. Thereafter, the DOL instructed James Hammond to submit an Acceptance of Payment Form " EN-20" with an original signature in order to receive payments of the awarded benefits.

         5. On April 26, 2012, the DOL issued an incorrect EN-20 identifying the wrong amount of benefits on it. When Plaintiff noticed the incorrect amount, he notified the DOL and was informed that it was a scrivener's error. Because of the error, the DOL issued a new EN-20, which resulted in a delay in finalizing the claim. James Hammond signed the corrected EN-20 and submitted it to the DOL's Resource Center on Friday, April 27, 2012.

         6. Plaintiff communicated with representatives of the DOL, who informed him that the transfer of funds would occur on April 27, 2012. On the same day, Plaintiff received information that the DOL was having a " hard time" getting the ...


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