Almirante: Seafarer’s total, permanent disability benefits

Labor Case Digest

RESPONDENT Dante C. Segui was hired by petitioner Abosta Shipmanagement Corp. as an able seaman on board the vessel M/V Grand Quest starting June 16, 2009.

During his employment, he would be on duty more than 12 hours a day, resulting in extreme fatigue and exhaustion. On Oct. 26, 2018, while on duty, he felt cramps followed by severe back pain.

He was repatriated and arrived in Manila on Dec. 2, 2010. He was referred to the Manila Doctor’s Hospital where a CT scan showed he was suffering from “circumferential disc bulge at L4-L5 with posteromedial herniation of neuroforaminal narrowings as described; lumbar spondylosis.”

He filed a complaint for payment of total and permanent disability against petitioner.

Does his complaint prosper?

Ruling: Yes.

In the present case, the records reveal that from Segui’s repatriation and immediate referral to the company-designated physician on Dec. 2, 2010 until the 120-day period on March 31, 2011, the latter did not issue a medical assessment on Segui’s disability grading. It was only on the 219th day or on July 8, 2011, when Segui reached the maximum medical cure, that the company-designated physician issued a disability rating of “Grade 8 disability-moderate rigidity or 2/3 loss of motion or lifting power of the trunk.”

Notably, the company-designated physician did not determine Segui’s fitness to work. Clearly, there was non-compliance with items 1 and 2 of the rules on claim for total and permanent disability benefits cited in the Elburg case. The company-designated physician failed to issue a medical assessment within the 120-day period from the time Segui reported to him, and there was no justifiable reason for such failure.

Likewise, there was no sufficient justification to extend the 120-day period to 240 days. Thus, following the above rules, Segui’s disability becomes permanent and total, and entitles him to permanent and total disability benefits under his contract and the collective bargaining agreement.

x x x

The Court observed that the company-designated physician’s medical reports for the month of June 2011 are consistent with the medical assessment of Segui’s own physician, that is, he is unfit for sea duty in any capacity.

x x x

Despite the lack of medical assessment from a third independent physician, the Court, on several occasions, can determine which between the two medical findings has merit. Here, the records of the case are replete with support that Segui’s injury is permanent and total, and that he is entitled to permanent and total disability benefits as unanimously declared by the LA, the NLRC and the CA. (Abosta Shipmanagement Corp., vs. Dante C. Segui, G.R. No. 214906, January 16, 2019).


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