Our Team - Nina M. Mitchell

Nina M. Mitchell

Member

Practice Areas

United States Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

Defense Base Act

Alaska Workers’ Compensation Act

Jones Act and General Maritime Law

Insurance Defense

Direct: (206) 838-7558
Email

 

Personal Narrative

Nina joined Nicoll Black & Feig in 2016 where she defends claims arising out of marine construction, ship building and repair, terminal operations, and the loading and unloading of vessels. These 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.  Nina has represented clients before state and federal courts, administrative agencies and various appellate entities.

Nina 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.

Representative Decisions

  • Archie Miller v. CH2MHill Alaska, Inc. and the Alaska Insurance Guaranty Association OALJ No.2016-LHC-00252 (Jan. 5, 2018). Mr. Miller operated small vessels and maintained equipment aboard barges as part of the Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup in 1989. He alleged that this work exposed him to oil and cleaning products that damaged his lungs. Ms. Mitchell presented evidence that Mr. Miller’s respiratory condition was related to exposure to cold and wood smoke during winter fur-trapping seasons, and not related to his oil spill work. Administrative Law Judge Jennifer Gee agreed that Mr. Miller’s respiratory condition was not related to the oil spill cleanup, and she dismissed his claims. This case is the last of a series of oil spill technician claims that Ms. Mitchell has successfully defended with zero payout to claimants and their attorneys. In the course of this litigation, Ms. Mitchell argued that there was no longshore jurisdiction over the beach workers engaged in normal clean-up activities and loading and unloading of cleanup supplies on land. The Benefits Review Board agreed and limited jurisdiction to injuries sustained over navigable water. These defense strategies have deterred the filing of meritless claims arising from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

  • 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); Hernandez-Garcia v. Ice Floe, LLC dba Nichols Brothers, BRB No. 17-0536 (May 18, 2018)(affirming the trial court’s decision after remand).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 and his attorney were awarded nothing. The Benefits Review Board affirmed the trial court’s decision.
  • Scarbrough v. Shannon Wagner dba Seattle Marine Construction, OALJ No. 2013-LHC-00937 (Jan. 30, 2015) and (Feb. 7, 2018) (appeal pending); Scarbrough v. Shannon Wagner dba Seattle Marine Construction, BRB No. 15-0199 (Feb. 23, 2016). 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.

Education

University of Puget Sound, B.A., 1993
Seattle University School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 1997

Bar Memberships

Washington State
Alaska State
U.S. District Courts (W.D. and E.D. Washington)
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit