Chao v. Mallard Bay Drilling, 00-927

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtStevens
Parties ELAINE L. CHAO, SECRETARY OF LABOR, PETITIONER v. MALLARD BAY DRILLING, INC.SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
Decision Date09 January 2002
Docket Number00-927

534 U.S. 235
122 S.Ct. 738
151 L.Ed.2d 659

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.

ELAINE L. CHAO, SECRETARY OF LABOR, PETITIONER
v.
MALLARD BAY DRILLING, INC.

No. 00-927.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Argued October 31, 2001
Decided January 9, 2002

Syllabus

While Rig 52, respondent's oil and gas exploration barge, was drilling a well in Louisiana's territorial waters, an explosion on board killed or injured several workers. Pursuant to its statutory authority, the United States Coast Guard (Coast Guard or Guard) investigated the incident, but did not accuse respondent of violating any of its regulations. Indeed, the Guard noted that the barge was an "uninspected vessel," see 46 U.S.C. § 2101 (43), as opposed to an "inspected vessel" subject to comprehensive Coast Guard regulation, see §3301. Subsequently, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited respondent for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act or Act) and its regulations. Respondent challenged OSHA's jurisdiction to issue the citations on the grounds that Rig 52 was not a "workplace" under §4(a) of the Act and that §4(b)(1) of the Act pre-empted OSHA jurisdiction because the Coast Guard had exclusive authority to prescribe and enforce occupational safety and health standards on vessels such as Rig 52. In rejecting both challenges, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that Rig 52 was a "workplace" under the Act and held that the Coast Guard had not pre-empted OSHA's jurisdiction, explaining that there was no industry-wide exemption from OSHA regulations for uninspected vessels and no Coast Guard regulation specifically regulating the citations' subject matter. The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission issued a final order assessing a penalty against respondent. Without addressing the §4(a) issue, the Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that the Coast Guard's exclusive jurisdiction over the regulation of seamen's working conditions aboard vessels such as Rig 52 precluded OSHA's regulation under §4(b)(1), and that this pre-emption encompassed both inspected and uninspected vessels.

Held:

1. Because the Guard has neither affirmatively regulated the working conditions at issue, nor asserted comprehensive regulatory jurisdiction over working conditions on uninspected vessels, it has not exercised its authority under §4(b)(1). The OSH Act does not apply to working conditions as to which other federal agencies "exercise" statutory authority to prescribe or enforce occupational safety and health standards or regulations. §4(b)(1), 29 U.S.C. § 653 (b)(1). Congress' use of "exercise" makes clear that mere possession by another federal agency of unexercised authority is insufficient to displace OSHA's jurisdiction. Furthermore, another federal agency's minimal exercise of some authority over certain vessel conditions does not result in complete pre-emption of OSHA jurisdiction. To determine whether Coast Guard regulations have pre-empted jurisdiction over Rig 52's working conditions, it is thus necessary to examine the contours of the Guard's exercise of its statutory authority. With respect to inspected vessels, the parties do not dispute that OSHA's regulations have been pre-empted because the Coast Guard has exercised its broad statutory authority over workers' occupational health and safety, 46 U.S.C. § 3306 . Indeed, OSHA and the Coast Guard signed a Memorandum of Understanding recognizing that the Guard has displaced OSHA's jurisdiction over all working conditions on inspected vessels, including those not addressed by specific regulations. In contrast, the Guard's regulatory authority over uninspected vessels is more limited. Its general maritime regulations do not address the occupational safety and health concerns faced by inland drilling operations on such vessels and, thus, do not pre-empt OSHA's authority in this case. And, although the Guard has engaged in a limited exercise of its authority to regulate specific working conditions on certain types of uninspected vessels, respondent has not identified any specific regulations addressing the types of risk and vessel at issue here. Pp. 59.

2. Rig 52 was a "workplace" under §4(a) of the Act. It was located within a geographic area described in §4(a) a State and §4(a) attaches no significance to the fact that it was anchored in navigable waters. Pp. 9-10. 212 F.3d 898, reversed.

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

Stevens, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which all Members joined, except Scalia, J., who took no part in the decision of the...

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34 practice notes
  • United States v. Transocean Deepwater Drilling Inc., Civil Action No. H–11–3638.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • March 30, 2013
    ...to workplace safety on the OCS, OSHA's regulatory authority over the OCS is limited. See generally Chao v. Mallard Bay Drilling, Inc., 534 U.S. 235, 122 S.Ct. 738, 151 L.Ed.2d 659 (2002). Unlike the legislation governing OSHA, however, there is no specific provision in the CSB's enabling le......
  • Chao v. Occupational Safety and Health Review, No. 03-60958.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • February 21, 2005
    ...and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions ..." 29 U.S.C. § 651(b) (emphasis added); Chao v. Mallard Bay Drilling, 534 U.S. 235, 245 n. 9, 122 S.Ct. 738, 151 L.Ed.2d 659 (2002). The use of the singular "man" and "woman" suggests a focus on the ind......
  • United States v. Transocean Deepwater Drilling Inc., CIVIL ACTION NO. H-11-3638
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • March 30, 2013
    ...to workplace safety on the OCS, OSHA's regulatory authority over the OCS is limited. See generally Chao v. Mallard Bay Drilling, Inc., 534 U.S. 235 (2002). Unlike the legislation governing OSHA, however,Page 20there is no specific provision in the CSB's enabling legislation that preempts th......
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 20, 2007
    • December 20, 2007
    ...Therefore, OSHA does not have authority over those vessels (29 U.S.C. 653(b)(1); Chao v. Mallard Bay Drilling, Inc. (Mallard Bay), 534 U.S. 235 (2002); Ex. 16-6; CPL 02-01- 020 Coast Guard/OSHA Authority Over Vessels, 11/8/1996). However, OSHA does have authority over uninspected vessels (h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
32 cases
  • United States v. Transocean Deepwater Drilling Inc., Civil Action No. H–11–3638.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • March 30, 2013
    ...to workplace safety on the OCS, OSHA's regulatory authority over the OCS is limited. See generally Chao v. Mallard Bay Drilling, Inc., 534 U.S. 235, 122 S.Ct. 738, 151 L.Ed.2d 659 (2002). Unlike the legislation governing OSHA, however, there is no specific provision in the CSB's enabling le......
  • Chao v. Occupational Safety and Health Review, No. 03-60958.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • February 21, 2005
    ...man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions ..." 29 U.S.C. § 651(b) (emphasis added); Chao v. Mallard Bay Drilling, 534 U.S. 235, 245 n. 9, 122 S.Ct. 738, 151 L.Ed.2d 659 (2002). The use of the singular "man" and "woman" suggests a focus on the individual employee. Sin......
  • United States v. Transocean Deepwater Drilling Inc., CIVIL ACTION NO. H-11-3638
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • March 30, 2013
    ...to workplace safety on the OCS, OSHA's regulatory authority over the OCS is limited. See generally Chao v. Mallard Bay Drilling, Inc., 534 U.S. 235 (2002). Unlike the legislation governing OSHA, however,Page 20there is no specific provision in the CSB's enabling legislation that preempts th......
  • Romero v. Cajun Stabilizing Boats, Inc., Civil Action No. 6:06cv0263.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
    • August 13, 2007
    ...the U.S. Coast Guard Regulations preempt the OSHA regulations as they relate to inspected vessels. In Chao v. Mallard Bay Drilling, Inc., 534 U.S. 235, 122 S.Ct. 738, 151 L.Ed.2d 659 (2002), the United States Supreme Court stated that "... OSHA's regulations have been preempted with respect......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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