Durand v. U.S. Dept. of Labor, et al., No. 10-36184 (9th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed a Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA), 5 U.S.C. 8131, 8132, claim after he was injured in a helicopter crash and received benefits totaling $409,838.11. Plaintiff then filed a civil suit against the helicopter operator and eventually the lawsuit settled for $2.3 million. At issue was whether plaintiff could deduct his litigation costs from a refund to the United States under FECA. The court held that no reading of section 8132 allowed for a FECA beneficiary to obtain a civil award and then deduct the costs of obtaining that award from a refund of benefits owed to the United States. The only plausible reading of section 8132 was to the contrary: A beneficiary could deduct his litigation costs only from his gross recovery to determine the amount, if any, of the surplus he must credit to the United States for future benefits.