459 U.S. 297 (1983), 81-897, Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

Docket Nº:No. 81-897
Citation:459 U.S. 297, 103 S.Ct. 634, 74 L.Ed.2d 465
Party Name:Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs
Case Date:January 11, 1983
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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459 U.S. 297 (1983)

103 S.Ct. 634, 74 L.Ed.2d 465

Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

No. 81-897

United States Supreme Court

Jan. 11, 1983

        v. Perini North River Associates

        Argued October 4, 1982

        CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR

        THE SECOND CIRCUIT

        Syllabus

       Before 1972, coverage under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA or Act) extended only to injuries sustained by workers on the actual "navigable waters of the United States (including any dry dock)." In 1972, the Act was amended by expanding the "navigable waters" situs to include certain adjoining land and by adding a status requirement that employees covered by the Act be "engaged in maritime employment" within the meaning of § 2(3) of the Act. In this case, an employee (Churchill) of respondent construction firm was injured while performing his job on the deck of a cargo barge being used in the construction of a sewage treatment plant extending over the Hudson River in New York. Churchill's claim for compensation under the LHWCA was administratively denied on the ground that he was not "engaged in maritime employment" under § 2(3). On Churchill's petition for review, in which the Director of the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (Director) (petitioner here) participated as respondent in support of Churchill, the Court of Appeals held that [103 S.Ct. 637] Churchill was not in "maritime employment" because his employment lacked a "significant relationship to navigation or to commerce on navigable waters."

        Held:

        1. Where Churchill is a party respondent under this Court's Rule 19.6 and has filed a brief arguing for his coverage under the Act, there is a justiciable controversy before the Court. Accordingly, it is unnecessary to consider whether the Director, as the official responsible for administration and enforcement of the Act, has Art. III standing as an aggrieved party to seek review of the decision below. The Director's petition under 28 U.S.C. § 1254(1) brings Churchill before the Court, and he, as the injured employee, has a sufficient interest in the question at issue to give him standing to urge consideration of the merits of the Court of Appeals' decision. Pp. 302-305.

        2. Churchill, as a marine construction worker injured while performing his job upon actual navigable waters, was "engaged in maritime employment"

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within the meaning of § 2(3), and thus was covered by the amended Act. Pp. 305-325.

        (a) There is no doubt that Churchill would have been covered by the Act before it was amended in 1972. Pp. 305-312.

        (b) There is nothing in the legislative history or in the 1972 Amendments themselves to indicate that Congress intended to withdraw coverage from employees injured on navigable waters in the course of their employment as that coverage existed before the 1972 Amendments, or that it intended the status language of § 2(3) to require that such an employee show that his employment possessed a direct or substantial relation to navigation or commerce in order to be covered. On the contrary, the legislative history indicates that Congress did not intend to "exclude employees traditionally covered." Moreover, Congress explicitly deleted language from the Act that was found in Calbeck v. Travelers Insurance Co., 370 U.S. 114, to be responsible for the "jurisdictional dilemma" created by the "maritime but local" doctrine whereby a maritime worker was often required to make a perilous jurisdictional "guess" as to which of the two mutually exclusive compensation schemes, i.e., the federal or the state scheme, was applicable to cover his injury. Pp. 313-325.

        652 F.2d 255, reversed and remanded.

        O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 325. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion,post, p. 325.

        O'CONNOR, J., lead opinion

        JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

        In 1972, Congress amended the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 44 Stat. (part 2) 1424, as

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amended, 33 U.S.C. § 901 et seq. (1976 ed. and Supp. V) (hereinafter LHWCA or Act). Before 1972, LHWCA coverage extended only to injuries sustained on the actual "navigable waters of the United States (including any dry dock)." 44 Stat. (part 2) 1426. As part of its 1972 Amendments of the Act, Congress expanded the "navigable waters" situs to include certain adjoining land areas, § 3(a), 86 Stat. 1251, 33 U.S.C. § 903(a). At the same time, Congress added a status requirement that employees covered by the Act must be "engaged in maritime employment" within the meaning of § 2(3) of the Act.1 We granted certiorari in this case, 455 U.S. 937 (1982), to consider whether a marine construction worker, who was [103 S.Ct. 638] injured while performing his job upon actual navigable waters,2 and who would have been covered by the Act before 1972, is "engaged in maritime employment," and thus covered by the amended Act.3 We hold that the worker is "engaged in maritime employment" for purposes of

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coverage under the amended LHWCA. Accordingly, we reverse the decision below.

        I

        The facts are not in dispute. Respondent Perini North River Associates (Perini) contracted to build the foundation of a sewage treatment plant that extends approximately 700 feet over the Hudson River between 136th and 145th Streets in Manhattan. The project required that Perini place large, hollow circular pipes called caissons in the river, down to embedded rock, fill the caissons with concrete, connect the caissons together above the water with concrete beams, and place precast concrete slabs on the beams. The caissons were delivered by rail to the shore, where they were loaded onto supply barges and towed across the river to await unloading and installation.

        The injured worker, Raymond Churchill, was an employee of Perini in charge of all work performed on a cargo barge used to unload caissons and other materials from the supply barges and to set caissons in position for insertion into the embedded rock. Churchill was on the deck of the cargo barge giving directions to a crane operator engaged in unloading a caisson from a supply barge when a line used to keep the caissons in position snapped and struck Churchill. He sustained injuries to his head, leg, and thumb.4

        Churchill filed a claim for compensation under the LHWCA. Perini denied that Churchill was covered by the Act, and, after a formal hearing pursuant to § 19 of the Act, 33 U.S.C. § 919 (1976 ed. and Supp. V), an Administrative Law Judge determined that Churchill was not "engaged in maritime employment" under § 2(3) of the Act because his job lacked "some relationship to navigation and commerce on navigable waters." App. to Pet. for Cert. 31a. Churchill and the Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

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(Director), appealed to the Benefits Review Board, pursuant to § 21(b)(3) of the Act, 33 U.S.C. § 921(b)(3). The Board affirmed the Administrative Law Judge's denial of coverage on the theory that marine construction workers involved in building facilities not ultimately used in navigation or commerce upon navigable waters are not engaged in "maritime employment." 12 BRBS 929, 933 (1980).5 One Board Member dissented, arguing that

all injuries sustained in the course of employment by employees over "navigable waters," as that term was defined prior to the 1972 Amendments, are covered under the [amended] Act.

        Id. at 935.6

       [103 S.Ct. 639] Churchill then sought review of the Board's decision in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, under § 21(c) of the Act, 33 U.S.C. § 921(c).7 The Director participated as respondent, and filed a brief in support of Churchill's position. The Second Circuit denied Churchill's petition, relying on its decision in Fusco v. Perini North River Associates, 622 F.2d 1111 (1980), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1131 (1981). According to the Second Circuit, Churchill was not in "maritime employment," because his employment lacked a "`significant relationship to navigation or to commerce on navigable waters.'" Churchill v. Perini North River Associates, 652 F.2d 255, 256, n. 1 (1981). The Director now seeks review of the Second Circuit denial of Churchill's petition. The Director agrees with the position taken by the dissenting member of the Benefits Review Board: the LHWCA does not require

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that an employee show that his employment possesses a "significant relationship to navigation or to commerce," where, as here, the employee is injured while working upon the actual navigable waters in the course of his employment, and would have been covered under the pre-1972 LHWCA.8

        II

        Before we consider whether Churchill is covered by the Act, we must address Perini's threshold contention that the Director does not have standing to seek review of the decision below. According to Perini, the Director's only interest in this case is in furthering a different interpretation of the Act than the one rendered by the Administrative Law Judge, the Benefits Review Board, and the Court of Appeals.9

        Perini's claim ignores the procedural posture in which this case comes before the Court. That posture makes it unnecessary for us to consider whether the Director, as the agency

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official "responsible for the administration and enforcement" of the Act,10 has standing as an aggrieved party to seek review of the decision below.11 The Director is not alone in [103 S.Ct. 640] arguing that Churchill is covered...

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