Sonar Test Engineer Covered by LHWCA

Monday, June 27, 2005
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that a sonar test engineer comes under the coverage of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). In the instant case, the engineer spent about 40% of his time conducting tests on sonar transducers onboard a barge permanently moored in Cayuga Lake in upstate New York. Cayuga Lake is connected by locks to the Erie Canal, which is connected by locks to both the Hudson River and Lake Erie. Even though Cayuga Lake does not currently support interstate commerce, the court held that, since it is physically capable of such support, the lake is navigable for purposes of the LHWCA. Since a substantial portion of the engineer’s work was performed on a floating object on navigable water and he drowned when he fell from the shuttle boat carrying him ashore, the court held that his widow was entitled to death benefits under the Act. Lockheed Martin Corp. v. Morganti, No. 04-0500 (2nd Cir.) (HK Law)

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