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PACIFIC OPERATORS OFFSHORE v. VALLADOLID

Docket No.: 10-507
Certiorari Granted: 02/22/11
Argued: October 11, 2011
Decided: 01/11/12

Topics:

Commerce Clause, Labor Department, National Labor Relations Act, Submerged Lands Act

PartyNames: Pacific Operators Offshore, LLP, et al. v. Luisa L. Valladolid, et al.
Petitioner: Pacific Operators Offshore, LLP, et al.
Respondent: Luisa L. Valladolid, et al.

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Citation: 604 F.3d 1126
Supreme Court Docket

Pacific Operators Offshore, LLP, et al.
v.
Luisa L. Valladolid, et al.
Facts:

Pacific Operations Offshore runs two offshore oil drilling platforms, the Hogan and the Houchin, both located more than three miles off the coast of California. Juan Valladolid worked for Pacific Operations as a roustabout, stationed primarily on the Hogan. He was killed, however, on the grounds of Pacific Operations's onshore oil-processing facility when he was crushed by a forklift. Following his death, his widow, Luisa, sought workers' compensation benefits under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act ("OCSLA") and the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act ("LHWCA"). An administrative law judge denied Mrs. Valladolid's OCSLA claim on the grounds that her husband's injury had occurred outside the geographic site of the outer continental shelf. The judge denied the LHWCA claim on two grounds: (1) Valladolid was not engaged in maritime employment, and (2) he was not injured on a maritime situs. The Benefits Review Board upheld the judge's denial of the OCSLA benefits under the "situs-of-injury" test, and affirmed the denial of LHWCA benefits on the maritime situs ground. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed in part, ruling that the OCSLA does not have a situs-of-injury requirement. The court of appeals held that Section 1333(b) extends Longshore Act coverage to workers injured on land where there is "a substantial nexus between the injury and extractive operations on the shelf." Two other circuits that have addressed the question have reached conflicting results.

Question Presented:

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C., §§ 1331-1356 (OCSLA), governs those who work on oil drilling platforms and other fixed structures beyond state maritime boundaries. Workers are eligible for compensation for "any injury occurring as the result of operations conducted on the outer Continental Shelf." 43 U.S.C. § 1333(b) (2006). When an outer continental shelf worker is injured on land, is he (or his heir): (1) always eligible for compensation, because his employer's operations on the shelf are the but for cause of his injury (as the Third Circuit holds); or (2) never eligible for compensation, because the Act applies only to injuries occurring on the shelf (as the Fifth Circuit holds); (3) sometimes eligible for compensation, because eligibility for benefits depends on the nature and extent of the factual relationship between the injury and the operations on the shelf (as the Ninth Circuit holds)?

Question:

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act extends workers' compensation coverage under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act "with respect to 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 exploring for, developing, removing, or transporting by pipeline the natural resources of the outer Continental Shelf." Does the OCSLA extend Longshore Act coverage only to workers injured on the outer Continental Shelf itself?

PACIFIC OPERATORS OFFSHORE v. VALLADOLID
ORAL ARGUMENT

10/11/11

Listen to Oral Argument in PACIFIC OPERATORS OFFSHORE v. VALLADOLID
Holding: AFFIRMED AND REMANDED
Vote: 9-0
Majority: Thomas,Roberts,Kennedy,Ginsburg,Breyer,Sotomayor,Kagan
Concurring: Scalia,Alito
Opinion By:
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