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Lahndorff v. U.S. Department of Labor

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division

October 4, 2017

GREGORY K. LAHNDORFF PLAINTIFF
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          Greg N. Stivers, Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff Gregory K. Lahndorff (“Lahndorff”) brings this action for review of the Department of Labor's (“DOL”) denial of his claims for benefits under Parts B and E of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (the “EEOICPA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 7384-7385s-16. Because the only decision for which review is available is neither arbitrary nor capricious, Lahndorff's claim is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Statutory Background

         The EEOICPA provides benefits to covered employees with illnesses caused by exposure to toxic substances in the course of their work for the Department of Energy (“DOE”) and its predecessor agencies, as well as certain of its vendors, contractors, and subcontractors. An employee seeking compensation under Part B of the EEOICPA for chronic beryllium disease (“CBD”) must first provide proof she qualifies as a “covered beryllium employee, ” i.e., that she was potentially exposed to beryllium while working at a covered DOE facility. 42 U.S.C. § 7384l(1), (7). When documentation establishes employment at a DOE facility during a period of time when beryllium dust, particles or vapor may have been present, an employee's exposure to beryllium is presumed. Id. § 7384n(a). To establish a diagnosis of CBD resulting from the employee's work-related beryllium exposure, certain statutory criteria must be met depending upon whether the claimed diagnosis was before or after January 1, 1993:

(A) For diagnoses on or after January 1, 1993, beryllium sensitivity (as established [by abnormal lymphocyte proliferation test performed on either blood or lung lavage cells]) together with lung pathology consistent with [CBD], including-
(i) a lung biopsy showing granulomas or a lymphocytic process consistent with [CBD]
(ii) a computerized axial tomography scan showing changes consistent with [CBD]; or
(iii) pulmonary function or exercise testing showing pulmonary deficits consistent with [CBD].
(B) For diagnoses before January 1, 1993, the presence of-
(i) occupational or environmental history, or epidemiologic evidence of beryllium exposure; and
(ii) any three of the following criteria:
(I) Characteristic chest radiographic (or computed tomography (CT)) abnormalities.
(II) Restrictive or obstructive lung physiology testing or diffusing lung capacity defect.
(III) Lung pathology consistent with [CBD].
(IV) Clinical course consistent with a chronic respiratory disorder.
(V) Immunologic tests showing beryllium sensitivity (skin patch test or beryllium ...

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