On October 11, 2011, the Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor, a maritime personal injury law firm, will present arguments to the United States Supreme Court regarding the availability of workers’ compensation benefits under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court granted review of the Ninth Circuit’s opinion in Valladolid v. Pacific Operations Offshore, LLP. In that case the Ninth Circuit held that the workers’ compensation provision of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act applies to an injury resulting from operations on the outer continental shelf, regardless of the location of the injury, so long as the work being performed at the time of the injury directly furthers operations on the outer continental shelf and occurs in the regular course of such operations.
Now, in Pacific Operators [sic] Offshore v. Vallodolid, the Supreme Court will address disagreement among circuit courts of appeals as to the scope of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
The underlying claim arose when Juan Valladolid was killed on the job as a roustabout for Pacific Operations Offshore, LLP. While Valladolid worked primarily on a drilling platform more than three miles offshore, he was killed in a forklift accident while working temporarily at his employer’s onshore oil processing facility.
Valladolid’s widow hired the Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor to prosecute a claim for benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), both directly under the LHWCA and via the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act is a federal law that provides compensation for the disability or death of a maritime employee where such results from an injury occurring on “navigable waters” of the United States, at marine terminals, ship yards or on “adjacent areas” used for loading or unloading of ships, ship construction or repair. LHWCA benefits are extended to workers on oil and gas platforms located at least three miles off shore by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA).
When an administrative law judge and a Benefits Review Board denied the claim, base on a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision requiring that the injury or death actually occur on the outer continental shelf (more that three miles from shore), Valladolid’s widow and the Law Offices of Charles D. Naylor appealed the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The 9th Circuit found that the OCSLA does not require that injury or death actually occur more that three miles from shore for coverage to apply. Instead, the 9th Circuit held that OCSLA benefits apply even if an injury occurs ashore, so long as the work being done at the time and place of the injury or death directly furthered operations on the outer continental shelf; and the injury or death was in the course and scope of the workers off shore employment.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Valladolid’s employers appeal to resolve the dispute between the circuits of Court of Appeals concerning the jurisdiction and scope of the OCSLA.