Davila-Perez v. Lockheed Martin Corp., DAVILA-PERE

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
Writing for the CourtTORRUELLA
Parties(1st Cir. 2000) LIBERTADAL., Plaintiffs, Appellants, v. LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION, ET AL., Defendants, Appellees. . Heard
Decision Date05 November 1999
Docket NumberDAVILA-PERE,No. 98-1977,ET

Page 464

202 F.3d 464 (1st Cir. 2000)
LIBERTAD DAVILA-PEREZ, ET AL., Plaintiffs, Appellants,
v.
LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION, ET AL., Defendants, Appellees.
No. 98-1977.
United States Court of Appeals, for the First Circuit.
Heard Nov. 5, 1999.
Decided February 8, 2000.

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO. Hon. Raymond L. Acosta, Senior U.S. District Judge.

Page 465

Luis Anbal Aviles, with whom Ruben Colon-Morales, and Aviles & Colon Morales LLP were on brief, for appellants.

Francisco E. Colon-Ramrez, with whom Colon, Colon & Martnez was on brief, for appellee Martin Marietta Services, Inc.

Before Torruella, Chief Judge, Wallace,* Senior Circuit Judge, and O'Toole, Jr.,** District Judge.

TORRUELLA, Chief Judge.

This case arises from the events of May 12, 1995 that resulted in the death of Bienvenido Gonzalez. The appellants--his widow, Libertad Davila-Perez, their children, his mother, and his sister--brought this personal injury action against appellee Martin Marietta Corporation, Gonzalez's employer, and Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical Corporation.1 Based on the statutory employer defense made available under the Puerto Rico Workmen's Compensation Act ("PRWCA"), 11 L.P.R.A. §§ 2, 21, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of appellee and dismissed all claims against it. We affirm on the alternative ground that the appellee was immune from suit under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act ("LHWCA"), 33 U.S.C. § 905, pursuant to the Defense Base Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1651(a)(2).

BACKGROUND

For purposes of this appeal, the Court adopts the following relevant facts. Gonzalez was employed by Martin Marietta, an independent contractor retained by the U.S. Navy. He worked as an engine shop supervisor at the Aerial Target System at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Ceiba, Puerto Rico. On May 12, 1995, while Gonzalez was conducting a test on new equipment, an explosion occurred. Gonzalez suffered second and third degree burns

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over thirty percent of his body and was hospitalized until his death on July 8, 1995.

Martin Marietta had procured workers' compensation and employers' liability insurance from CIGNA, pursuant to its contract requirements with the Navy. Benefits were paid to appellants in accordance with the policy terms. No policy was obtained from the State Insurance Fund Corporation of Puerto Rico on behalf of Gonzalez.

The appellants filed this action pursuant to articles 1802 and 1803 of the Puerto Rico Civil Code, 31 L.P.R.A. §§ 5141, 5142 (1997), alleging that the damages suffered by Gonzalez were the result of diverse negligent acts of the U.S. Navy, Martin Marietta, and Teledyne. Martin Marietta answered with a Motion for Summary Judgment asserting that it had insured Gonzalez under the CIGNA policy and that it had immunity under the LHWCA, as extended by the Defense Base Act, to cover employees in military installations in U.S. territories and possessions. The appellants objected, arguing that the Defense Base Act no longer applies to Puerto Rico because it ceased to be a territory following the enactment of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico on July 25, 1952. Without resolving the applicability of the Defense Base Act, the district court entered judgment for Martin Marietta based on the Puerto Rico statutory employer defense because "the objective of workers' compensation, i.e., provide benefits and medical care to employees injured while at work without regard to fault, was squarely met and that decedent and his family received compensation justly due."

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). We review summary judgment de novo, "viewing 'the entire record in the light most hospitable to the party opposing summary judgment, indulging all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.'" Euromotion, Inc. v. BMW of N. Am., Inc., 136 F.3d 866, 869 (1st Cir. 1998) (quoting Griggs-Ryan v. Smith, 904 F.2d 112, 115 (1st Cir. 1990)); see also Morris v. Government Dev't Bank of P.R., 27 F.3d 746, 748 (1st Cir. 1994). This standard of review permits us to uphold the district court's summary judgment regardless of whether we reject or adopt its rationale, so long as an "independently sufficient ground" is made manifest by the record. Mesnick v. General Elec. Co., 950 F.2d 816, 822 (1st Cir. 1991) (citing Garside v. Osco Drug, Inc., 895 F.2d 46, 48-49 (1st Cir. 1990)); see also Houlton Citizens' Coalition v. Town of Houlton, 175 F.3d 178, 184 (1st Cir. 1999); Hachikian v. FDIC, 96 F.3d 502, 504 (1st Cir. 1996).

DISCUSSION

The issue before this Court is whether Martin Marietta is entitled to immunity from tort claims because they are precluded by the applicable workers' compensation system. The appellee proposes two sources for statutory immunity: the LHWCA and the PRWCA. Because we conclude that the LHWCA applies and provides the exclusive remedy, that is where we begin our analysis.

In 1927, Congress passed the LHWCA, ch. 509, 44 Stat. 1424 (codified as amended at 33 U.S.C. §§ 901-950), to establish a system of uniform federal compensation for all injuries to employees in "the maritime field up to the line where local compensation would not be excluded by the existence of federal admiralty jurisdiction." Royal Indem. Co. v. Puerto Rico Cement Corp., 142 F.2d 237, 239 (1st Cir. 1944) (citing S. Rep. No. 69-973; H. Rep. No. 69-1767); see also Calbeck v. Travelers Ins. Co., 370 U.S. 114, 121-22, 124 (1962) (concluding that Congress enacted LHWCA to provide uniform coverage and avoid uncertainty as to source of compensation). In other words, the LHWCA filled a gap

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between the coverage of maritime law and state law created by the Constitution and derivative case law. See Calbeck, 370 U.S. at 115-25.

In 1941, Congress extended the provisions of the LHWCA to U.S. military bases outside the United States by enacting the Defense Base Act, ch. 357, 55 Stat. 622 (codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. §§ 1651-1654). See Royal Indem., 142 F.2d at 239....

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42 practice notes
  • Nordan v. Blackwater Security Consulting, LLC, No. 5:05-CV-48-FL(1).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • August 11, 2005
    ...Worker's Compensation Act (LHWCA) to select forms of employment outside of the United States. Davila-Perez v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 202 F.3d 464, 468 (1st Cir.2000). In relevant part, the DBA Except as herein modified, the provisions of the [LHWCA] as amended, shall apply in respect to the......
  • Jones v. Halliburton Co. D/B/A Kbr Kellogg Brown & Root (kbr), Civil Action No. 4:07–cv–2719.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • May 24, 2011
    ...availability of compensation for injured employees on military bases outside of the United States.” Davila–Perez v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 202 F.3d 464, 468 (1st Cir.2000). A covered “injury” under the LHWCA is an: accidental injury or death arising out of and in the course of employment, a......
  • United States v. Mercado-Flores, Crim. No. 14–466 (GAG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • June 4, 2015
    ...within a common and accepted meaning of the word." (internal quotation marks omitted)). But see Davila–Perez v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 202 F.3d 464, 468 (1st Cir.2000) (holding that under the plain meaning of the Defense Base Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1651, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory......
  • Morales v. Puerto Rico, Crim. No. 15-1096 (GAG)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • August 11, 2015
    ...within a common and accepted meaning of the word." (internal quotation marks omitted)). But see Davila-Perez v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 202 F.3d 464, 468 (1st Cir. 2000) (holding that under the plain meaning of the Defense Base Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1651, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territor......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
42 cases
  • Nordan v. Blackwater Security Consulting, LLC, No. 5:05-CV-48-FL(1).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • August 11, 2005
    ...Worker's Compensation Act (LHWCA) to select forms of employment outside of the United States. Davila-Perez v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 202 F.3d 464, 468 (1st Cir.2000). In relevant part, the DBA Except as herein modified, the provisions of the [LHWCA] as amended, shall apply in respect to the......
  • Jones v. Halliburton Co. D/B/A Kbr Kellogg Brown & Root (kbr), Civil Action No. 4:07–cv–2719.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • May 24, 2011
    ...availability of compensation for injured employees on military bases outside of the United States.” Davila–Perez v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 202 F.3d 464, 468 (1st Cir.2000). A covered “injury” under the LHWCA is an: accidental injury or death arising out of and in the course of employment, a......
  • United States v. Lebrón-Caceres, CRIMINAL NO. 15-279 (PAD)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • January 14, 2016
    ...(1st Cir.2003) (describing Puerto Rico as an unincorporated territory of the United States); Dávila–Pérez v. Lockheed Martin Corporation , 202 F.3d 464, 468–469 (1st Cir.2000) (noting that Puerto Rico is a territory subject to Congressional power under the Territorial Clause); United States......
  • United States v. Mercado-Flores, Crim. No. 14–466 (GAG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Puerto Rico
    • June 4, 2015
    ...within a common and accepted meaning of the word." (internal quotation marks omitted)). But see Davila–Perez v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 202 F.3d 464, 468 (1st Cir.2000) (holding that under the plain meaning of the Defense Base Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1651, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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