Overview of Recent U.S. Supreme Court Decision Concerning Federal Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act
Your lawyers in Charleston at Howell and Christmas, LLC are experienced in representing individuals covered under the Federal Longshoremen and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act in South Carolina. But while the same Act is at discussed in this entry, it has an impact far removed from the Palmetto State. With that being said, the issue of law left to the discretion of the Supreme Court is nonetheless interesting and thought provoking to your Charleston attorneys. Hopefully our readers will agree.
Petitioner, Pacific Operations Offshore, LLP (Pacific), operates two drilling platforms on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) off the coast of California, as well as an onshore oil and gas processing facility. Juan Valladolid was employed as a general manual laborer in Pacific’s oil exploration and extraction business, performing such maintenance tasks as picking up litter, emptying trashcans, washing decks, painting, maintaining equipment, and helping load and unload the platform crane. Mr. Valladolid spent 98 percent of his time on Pacific’s drilling platforms, performing said tasks. The remainder of his time was spent at Pacific’s onshore processing facility, located in Ventura County, California. At Pacific’s onshore facility Mr. Valladolid was responsible for such maintenance duties such as painting, sandblasting, pulling weeds, cleaning drain culverts, and operating a forklift.
While operating a forklift at Pacific’s onshore facility, Mr. Valladolid was involved in a work related accident, which resulted in his death. Respondent, Mr. Valladolid’s widow filed a claim seeking benefits under the Longshoreman and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) pursuant to the extension of that contained within the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). Section 1333(b) of OSCLA, the provision involved in this case, makes LHWCA benefits available for the “disability or death of an employee resulting from any injury occurring as the result of operations conducted on the outer Continental Shelf” for the purpose of extracting its natural resources.
The parties agree that §1333(b) covers employees such as oilrig and drilling platform workers working directly on the OCS to extract its natural resources. However, the parties disagree as to whether employees who are involved in extraction operations, but who are injured beyond the OCS (i.e. an onshore operating facility) are also covered under OSCLA.
This dispute focuses on the scope of §1333(b), particularly the meaning of the phrase “any injury occurring as the result of operations on the outer Continental Shelf.” Thus, the question arises, is Respondent entitled to benefits under the provisions of the LHWCA pursuant to the extension of that Act within OCSLA?