In the aftermath of a 2012 platform explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in which three workers were killed, the Department of Justice ultimately indicted the contractors who supervised the work (along with the lease holder, Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations, LLC) with violating the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act (“OCSLA”), a felony carrying a maximum penalty of up to ten years imprisonment. The contractors were also charged with certain misdemeanor Clean Water Act violations. The contractors moved to dismiss the OCSLA charges on the basis that their conduct – as contractors – was not covered by OCSLA because they were not the lease holder or operator. The district court agreed and dismissed those charges, after which the government appealed. Earlier this week, the Fifth Circuit ruled against the government finding that contractors cannot criminally violate these OCSLA regulations. United States v. Moss, et al, No. 16-30561 (5th Cir. Sept. 27, 2017).
Continue Reading The Fifth Circuit Rejects the DOJ’s Attempt to Charge Black Elk Contractors with OCSLA Felonies