Our Team - Nina M. Mitchell
Nina M. Mitchell
United States Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
Defense Base Act
Alaska Workers’ Compensation Act
Jones Act and General Maritime Law
Nina joined Nicoll Black & Feig in February 2016. She primarily defends injury claims arising out of marine construction, ship building and repair, terminal operations, and the loading and unloading of vessels. Those claims typically arise under the United States Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Act, and the Jones Act and general maritime law. She has represented clients before state and federal courts, administrative agencies and various appellate entities.
Nina regularly presents on maritime law and related topics at programs sponsored by the Northwest Longshore Administrators’ Association, Lorman Education, the Puget Sound Maritime Claims Association, Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association, the Marine Insurance Association of Seattle and other professional groups.
Before becoming a lawyer, Nina worked as a whitewater river guide, a deckhand on her family’s fishing vessels, and a painter and laborer at a boatyard on Lake Union.
Archie Miller v. CH2MHill Alaska, Inc. and the Alaska Insurance Guaranty Association OALJ No.2016-LHC-00252 (Jan. 5, 2018)(prior citations omitted). Mr. Miller operated small vessels and maintained equipment aboard barges as part of the Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup in 1989. He alleged that oil and cleaning products damaged his lungs and eventually interfered with his ability to work. Ms. Mitchell presented evidence that Mr. Miller’s respiratory condition was not related to work, and that his pre-existing respiratory condition was exacerbated by exposure to cold and wood smoke during winter fur-trapping seasons. Judge Jennifer Gee concluded that Mr. Miller failed to prove his respiratory issues were work-related, and she dismissed all his claims.
- Hernandez-Garcia v. Ice Floe, LLC dba Nichols Brothers, OALJ No. 2014-LHC-01160 (Sept. 16, 2015) and (June 14, 2017); Hernandez-Garcia v. Ice Floe, LLC dba Nichols Brothers, BRB No 16-0044 (Aug. 30, 2016)(second appeal pending). The employer paid certain medical and compensation benefits to a shipyard painter for a knee injury caused by a falling shelf. Claimant contended that he needed more treatment for the knee, and that he also suffered a back injury in the accident. Ms. Mitchell defended the employer and its longshore carrier. The judge relied upon testimony from claimant’s former colleagues to determine that claimant had not suffered a back injury in the accident; the judge relied upon testimony from medical experts to determine the claimant needed no further knee treatment; and the judge concluded that claimant’s work injury did not preclude him from returning to work as a shipyard painter. Accordingly, the employer was given a credit for the benefits already paid, and the claimant was awarded nothing.
- Downey-Stammet v. CH2MHill Alaska, Inc., OALJ No. 2012-LHC-00343 (Nov. 2, 2012); Downey-Stammet v. CH2MHill Alaska, Inc., BRB Nos. 13-0076 and 13-0076 (Nov. 18, 2013); Downey-Stammet v. VECO, Inc., OALJ No. 2012-LHC-00343, (Apr. 20, 2015); Downey-Stammet v. CH2MHill Alaska, Inc., OALJ No. 2012-LHC-00343 (June 30, 2016). Ms. Mitchell argued that oil spill clean-up work on the beaches of Prince William Sound was not maritime work covered by the Longshore Act. An Administrative Law Judge and the Benefits Review Board agreed that claimant’s work on land, and the loading and unloading of oil-absorbent materials from transport vessels to facilitate that work, was not maritime work covered by the Act. The Board remanded to the ALJ for consideration of whether claimant’s work on vessels was covered by the Act. On remand, the ALJ determined that claimant also failed to prove any injury while working on vessels. Accordingly, the ALJ specifically dismissed the vessel-based claims.
- Scarbrough v. Shannon Wagner dba Seattle Marine Construction, OALJ No. 2013-LHC-00937 (Jan. 30, 2015); Scarbrough v. Shannon Wagner dba Seattle Marine Construction, BRB No. 15-0199 (Feb. 23, 2016) (on remand). Scarbrough v. Shannon Wagner dba Seattle Marine Construction, OALJ No. 2013-LHC-00937 (Feb. 7, 2018) (appeal pending). Claimant fell while boarding a vessel under construction in Portland, OR. He sought benefits for back, knee and internal injuries. Ms. Mitchell argued that claimant’s internal injuries were not related to the fall and that he was capable of working without any loss of wage earning capacity. Administrative Law Judge Richard Clark agreed and limited claimant’s recovery to medical payments and a scheduled award for the knee injury. Claimant appealed that decision and Judge Clark reviewed the records and issued a new order relying on the testimony of the employer’s vocational expert to once again conclude that claimant was not entitled to ongoing disability. Claimant has appealed that second decision to the Benefits Review Board.
University of Puget Sound, B.A., 1993
Seattle University School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 1997
U.S. District Courts (W.D. and E.D. Washington)
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit