State-law tort claim not preempted by LHWCA

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that a state-law tort claim by a shipyard worker against a vessel owner is not necessarily preempted by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).  In the instant case, was injured while fabricating a pontoon extension for defendant’s vessel, which was moored 200 feet away from plaintiff’s worksite.  After receiving LHWCA benefits from his employer, plaintiff sued defendant under state and federal law, alleging that defendant had assumed substantial control over work on the pontoons and had failed to exercise due care to ensure observation of proper safety practices.  The trial court dismissed the actions against defendant as preempted by the LHWCA.  On appeal, the court held that the state-law tort claim raises an issue that is not fully preempted and requires trial on the merits.   McLaurin v. Noble Drilling (US) Inc., No. 07-60402 (5th Cir. - HK Law).

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