by John Almy.
Grand Isle Shipyard Inc. v. Seacor Marine, LLC (5th Cir. 2008)
The 5th Circuit reversed a Louisiana District Court decision that held a platform worker’s injuries, sustained while being transported from platform to platform by vessel, were subject to the Louisiana Oilfield Anti-Indemnity Act through the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). In rendering its decision, the District Court relied on the 5th Circuit’s finding in Union Texas Petroleum Corp. v. PLT Engineering, Inc. that “the locations where substantial work pursuant to the contract was done were covered situses,” to determine that OCSLA applied, and thus Louisiana law applied as surrogate federal law.
In reversing, the 5th Circuit pointed to three issues. First, the District Court relied too heavily on the fact that the locations of substantial work were covered situses as that was only one of several factors that weighed in favor of finding OCSLA applicable in PLT. Second, and more importantly, the District Court failed to apply the test for the application of OCSLA outlined in Demette v. Falcon Drilling which explicitly carves out ships and vessels from the list of potential OCSLA sites. Finally, the District Court failed to note the Supreme Court’s holding in Offshore Logistics, Inc. v. Tallentire that a individual’s status as a platform worker is not particularly relevant to the OCSLA analysis. Since the worker’s injuries occurred on a vessel, and not while on or in contact with an appropriate OCSLA situs, OCSLA could not apply.