Latimer v. Chet Morrison Contractors, No. 11-CV-806, (W.D. La. 10/09/13)
Jon Robinson writing on the Mouledoux Bland Blog,
drew my attention to this interesting case under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
On July 16, 2009, Latimer’s first day of work on the rig, he was carrying a lifeline rope from one area of the platform to another. He had the rope wrapped around his shoulders and trailing behind him. Latimer alleged that Defendant Charles Endom “intentionally stepped on the rope,” jerking Latimer backward. When Endom removed his foot from the rope, Latimer allegedly stumbled forward and slipped in a wet and dirty depression on the platform floor. Latimer alleged that as a result of the incident he sustained injuries to his neck, left shoulder, low back and left knee.
Latimer claimed that the “intentional act” of Endom removed the case from the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, under an as yet undeclared by the Fifth Circuit exception to the exclusivity provision of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. The Court had no problem in dismissing this argument, and the related argument that the incident was not an “accidental” injury because it was intentional. The Court also noted the “horseplay” cases in connection with the requirement that an injury so caused arises out of employment.
What was not argued was the slightly different requirement under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, that the injury must occur “as a result of operations” on the Shelf. In the light of the Vallodolid case, might the employer be able to argue that (a) the horseplay arise out of employment, but (b) it had nothing to do with the operations on the shelf. In that case, might the employer be able to plead that respondeat superior does not apply, and escape all financial obligations to the worker? Of course that would leave the co-worker unprotected by §§905(a) and 933(i) of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, and exposed to liability for the consequences of his actions.