Gorman v. Garlock, Inc., No. 75606-6.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Washington
Writing for the CourtAlexander
Citation118 P.3d 311,155 Wn.2d 198
PartiesDonald R. GORMAN and Flaellen Gorman, husband and wife, Petitioners, v. GARLOCK, INC., Foster-Wheeler Energy Corp., Uniroyal, Inc., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Asbestos Corporation, Ltd., Combustion Engineering, Inc., Crown Cork & Seal Company, Inc., Gasket Co., Fraser's Boiler Service, Inc., Riley Stoker Corp., Saberhagen Holdings, Inc., Defendants, and Lockheed Shipbuilding Company and Todd Shipyards Corporation, Respondents. Wilhemina Helton for herself and as personal representative for the estate of Eddie Helton, a/k/a Eddie Hilton, deceased, Petitioner, v. Todd Shipyard Corporation, Respondent, and Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Asbestos Corporation, Ltd., Crown Cork & Seal Company, Inc., Foster-Wheeler Energy Corporation, Fraser's Boiler Service, Inc., and Saberhagen Holdings, Inc., Defendants.
Decision Date18 August 2005
Docket NumberNo. 75606-6.
118 P.3d 311
155 Wn.2d 198
Donald R. GORMAN and Flaellen Gorman, husband and wife, Petitioners,
v.
GARLOCK, INC., Foster-Wheeler Energy Corp., Uniroyal, Inc., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Asbestos Corporation, Ltd., Combustion Engineering, Inc., Crown Cork & Seal Company, Inc., Gasket Co., Fraser's Boiler Service, Inc., Riley Stoker Corp., Saberhagen Holdings, Inc., Defendants, and
Lockheed Shipbuilding Company and Todd Shipyards Corporation, Respondents.
Wilhemina Helton for herself and as personal representative for the estate of Eddie Helton, a/k/a Eddie Hilton, deceased, Petitioner,
v.
Todd Shipyard Corporation, Respondent, and
Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Asbestos Corporation, Ltd., Crown Cork & Seal Company, Inc., Foster-Wheeler Energy Corporation, Fraser's Boiler Service, Inc., and Saberhagen Holdings, Inc., Defendants.
No. 75606-6.
Supreme Court of Washington, En Banc.
Argued May 24, 2005.
Decided August 18, 2005.

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William Joel Rutzick, Seattle, for Petitioners.

Robert Hopkins Madden, William Henry Beaver, Walter Eugene Barton, Seattle, for Respondents.

ALEXANDER, C.J.


¶ 1 Donald Gorman worked in the Washington shipyards of Lockheed Shipbuilding Company (Lockheed) and Todd Shipyards Corporation (Todd); Eddie Helton worked in Todd's Washington shipyards. During this employment, each man was allegedly exposed to asbestos. Gorman sued Lockheed and Todd, seeking damages for illness allegedly caused by his exposure to asbestos. Wilhemina Helton, widow of the late Eddie Helton, brought a similar suit against Todd. Lockheed and Todd together moved to dismiss Gorman's suit and Todd moved to dismiss Mrs. Helton's suit. Each company claimed that such suits are barred by the exclusive liability provision of the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA), 33 U.S.C. §§ 901-950. The superior court agreed with the defendant-employer in each case and dismissed the claims. Gorman and Mrs. Helton separately appealed the orders of dismissal to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals consolidated the appeals and affirmed the superior courts. Thereafter, Gorman and Mrs. Helton sought discretionary review of the Court of Appeals' decision. We granted review and now affirm the Court of Appeals.

I.
A. Gorman v. Lockheed Shipbuilding and Todd Shipyards

¶ 2 Gorman was employed in various shipbuilding and ship-repair jobs at the Washington shipyards of both Lockheed and Todd from 1960 to 1975. Gorman alleges that during this employment "he was exposed to asbestos and asbestos-containing products" and, as a result of this exposure, developed asbestos-related illness, including lung cancer. Gorman Clerk's Papers (CP) at 59. Gorman further claims that both Lockheed and Todd "had actual knowledge of certain injury to [him] and willfully disregarded that knowledge." Id. at 60, 61. Following his employment with Lockheed and Todd, Gorman was employed at a number of land-based refineries where he was allegedly also exposed to asbestos.

¶ 3 In January 2001, Gorman became aware of his asbestos-related illness. He thereafter filed suit against Lockheed and Todd in King County Superior Court. Gorman's suit was based on a provision of the Washington Industrial Insurance Act (WIIA), Title 51 RCW, which allows a worker to maintain a suit for damages against his or her employer if the worker has been injured as a result of "the deliberate intention of his or her employer to produce such injury." RCW 51.24.020. Lockheed and Todd together moved to dismiss Gorman's suit pursuant to Civil Rule (CR) 12(b)(6), alleging that, because Gorman's suit was barred by the exclusive liability provision of the LHWCA, he had failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted. The superior court agreed with Lockheed and Todd and dismissed Gorman's claims against the companies.

B. Helton v. Todd Shipyards

¶ 4 Eddie Helton was employed as a "shipscaler" at Todd's Seattle shipyard from 1944 to 1969. Helton CP at 2. While working at the shipyard, Mr. Helton was allegedly "exposed to asbestos and asbestos-containing products" and, as a result of this exposure, he "developed asbestos-related disease,

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namely lung cancer." Id. at 2, 3. It is alleged that Todd "had actual knowledge that an injury to shipscalers such as Mr. Helton was certain to occur and willfully disregarded that knowledge by continuing to expose him to asbestos fibers during his work at Todd Shipyards." Id. at 2. Mr. Helton died from lung cancer in 1999.

¶ 5 Wilhemina Helton1 filed suit against Todd in King County Superior Court on her own behalf for wrongful death and on behalf of the estate of Eddie Helton for damages surviving his death. Helton's suit, like Gorman's, was based on the intentional injury suit provision of the WIIA, RCW 51.24.020. Todd moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to CR 12(b)(6), arguing that the LHWCA bars Helton's suit. Thereafter, a superior court judge ordered Helton's suit dismissed. Helton, like Gorman, has not filed a claim for compensation under the WIIA or the LHWCA.

C. Consolidated Appeal

¶ 6 Following dismissal of their suits in superior court, Gorman and Helton each appealed to Division One of the Court of Appeals. After consolidating their appeals, the Court of Appeals affirmed the orders of dismissal. See Gorman v. Garlock, Inc., 121 Wash.App. 530, 89 P.3d 302 (2004). That court held that RCW 51.12.100 bars LHWCA-covered workers from maintaining a claim under RCW 51.24.020. Because Gorman and Helton were covered by the LHWCA, the court reasoned, neither they nor their survivors could maintain a claim under RCW 51.24.020. We granted Gorman and Helton's petition for discretionary review.

II.

¶ 7 This case involves the interaction between two workers' compensation systems: the LHWCA and WIIA. Gorman and Helton argue that as WIIA-covered workers, their suits against Lockheed and Todd are shielded from the preemptive effect of the exclusive liability provision of the LHWCA because they are authorized by a provision of the WIIA. We must decide, therefore, whether Gorman and Helton were covered by the WIIA and, if they were, whether the WIIA shields their claims from the preemptive effect of the exclusive liability provision of the LHWCA.

¶ 8 The LHWCA is a federal workers' compensation program. It provides relief to workers employed in certain shore- and harbor-centered maritime occupations who suffer injury or death on the job and shields maritime employers from tort claims by injured workers. See 33 U.S.C. §§ 902, 903, 905(a). The LHWCA is applicable only if both workers and employers meet certain qualifications. Id. §§ 902(3), 902(4), 903(a).

¶ 9 To qualify for coverage under the LHWCA, a worker must satisfy a "2-tiered test." Lindquist v. Dep't of Labor & Indus., 36 Wash.App. 646, 652, 677 P.2d 1134, review denied, 102 Wash.2d 1001 (1984). First, the worker must satisfy the "Situs Test," id. at 653, 677 P.2d 1134; i.e., the worker must work, and the injury must occur, at a locale to which the LHWCA's jurisdiction extends. 33 U.S.C. § 903(a). Among the locales to which the LHWCA is expressly made applicable are any areas adjoining the "navigable waters of the United States ... customarily used by an employer in ... repairing, dismantling, or building a vessel." Id. Second, a worker must satisfy the "Status Test." Lindquist, 36 Wash.App. at 653, 677 P.2d 1134. To satisfy the "Status Test," the worker must be an "employee" as defined in the LHWCA. Id. The LHWCA defines "employee" as "any person engaged in maritime employment, including any ... ship repairman, shipbuilder, and ship-breaker." 33 U.S.C. § 902(3).

¶ 10 Gorman and Helton clearly satisfy the situs and status tests for LHWCA coverage. At the time they were allegedly injured, each man was a maritime "employee" engaged in shipbuilding or ship-repair at sites customarily used by their employers in repairing and building vessels. Therefore, Gorman

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and Helton are covered by the LHWCA. Significantly, neither Gorman nor Helton make any argument to the contrary.

¶ 11 Employers are subject to the LHWCA if "any of [their] employees are employed in maritime employment, in whole or in part, upon the navigable waters of the United States (including any ... adjoining area customarily used by an employer in... repairing, or building a vessel)." 33 U.S.C. § 902(4). Neither Gorman nor Helton suggest that Lockheed and Todd were not maritime "employers" for purposes of the LHWCA. We believe that it is apparent that they were maritime employers and are, therefore, subject to the LHWCA.

¶ 12 The liability of an employer subject to the LHWCA for an on-the-job injury is limited exclusively to that provided by the act: "The liability of an employer prescribed [in the act] shall be exclusive and in place of all other liability of such employer to the employee, his legal representative, husband or wife, parents, dependents, next of kin, and anyone otherwise entitled to recover damages from such employer...." 33 U.S.C. § 905(a) (emphasis added). As the United States Supreme Court observed in Federal Marine Terminals, Inc. v. Burnside Shipping Co., 394 U.S. 404, 412, 89 S.Ct. 1144, 22 L.Ed.2d 371 (1969), "[w]hen Congress imposed on the employer absolute liability for compensation, it explicitly made that liability exclusive." Thus, an injured LHWCA-covered worker or his or her family or legal representative is precluded from maintaining a suit at law against the employer. See 33 U.S.C. § 905(a); Moragne v. States Marine Lines, Inc., 398 U.S. 375, 394 n. 11, 90 S.Ct. 1772, 26 L.Ed.2d 339 (1970); S. Chicago Coal & Dock Co. v. Bassett, 309 U.S. 251, 256, 60 S.Ct. 544, 84 L.Ed. 732 (1940) ("For those employees who are entitled to compensation [under the LHWCA], the remedy under the Act is exclusive."); Stevedoring Servs. of Am., Inc. v. Eggert, 129 Wash.2d...

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57 practice notes
  • Peterson v. Wash. State Dep't of Labor & Indus., No. 53885-7-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • April 20, 2021
    ..." and we read statutory sections harmoniously to give effect to the legislature's intent. Gorman v. Garlock , 155 Wash.2d 198, 210, 118 P.3d 311 (2005) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Davis. v. Dep't of Licensing , 137 Wash.2d 957, 963, 977 P.2d 554 (1999) ); Dep't of Labor & In......
  • Snohomish Cnty. v. Pollution Control Hearings Bd., No. 46378–4–II.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • January 19, 2016
    ...When faced with apparently conflicting statutes, we employ a two-step process. See Gorman v. Garlock, Inc., 155 Wash.2d 198, 210, 118 P.3d 311 (2005). First, we examine whether the statutes can be harmonized and effect given to both. City of Lakewood v. Pierce County, 106 Wash.App. 63, 71, ......
  • Davis v. State, Dept. of Transp., No. 34352-5-II.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • May 30, 2007
    ...is to ascertain and carry out the intent and purpose of the legislature in creating it.'" Gorman v. Garlock, Inc., 155 Wash.2d 198, 210, 118 P.3d 311 (2005) (quoting Fraternal Order of Eagles, Tenino Aerie No. 564 v. Grand Aerie of Fraternal Order of Eagles, 148 Wash.2d 224, 239, 59 P.3d 65......
  • Eng v. Specialized Loan Servicing, 82378-7-I
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • December 13, 2021
    ...Cos., 125 Wash.2d 745, 756, 888 P.2d 147 (1995) ).11 Id. at 843-44, 347 P.3d 487 (quoting Gorman v. Garlock, Inc., 155 Wash.2d 198, 215, 118 P.3d 311 (2005) ).12 SLS does not dispute that its notice of default letter can be read as a threat to foreclose. Wash. Court of Appeals oral argument......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
56 cases
  • Peterson v. Wash. State Dep't of Labor & Indus., No. 53885-7-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • April 20, 2021
    ..." and we read statutory sections harmoniously to give effect to the legislature's intent. Gorman v. Garlock , 155 Wash.2d 198, 210, 118 P.3d 311 (2005) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Davis. v. Dep't of Licensing , 137 Wash.2d 957, 963, 977 P.2d 554 (1999) ); Dep't of Labor & In......
  • Snohomish Cnty. v. Pollution Control Hearings Bd., No. 46378–4–II.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • January 19, 2016
    ...When faced with apparently conflicting statutes, we employ a two-step process. See Gorman v. Garlock, Inc., 155 Wash.2d 198, 210, 118 P.3d 311 (2005). First, we examine whether the statutes can be harmonized and effect given to both. City of Lakewood v. Pierce County, 106 Wash.App. 63, 71, ......
  • Davis v. State, Dept. of Transp., No. 34352-5-II.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • May 30, 2007
    ...is to ascertain and carry out the intent and purpose of the legislature in creating it.'" Gorman v. Garlock, Inc., 155 Wash.2d 198, 210, 118 P.3d 311 (2005) (quoting Fraternal Order of Eagles, Tenino Aerie No. 564 v. Grand Aerie of Fraternal Order of Eagles, 148 Wash.2d 224, 239, 59 P.3d 65......
  • Eng v. Specialized Loan Servicing, 82378-7-I
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • December 13, 2021
    ...Cos., 125 Wash.2d 745, 756, 888 P.2d 147 (1995) ).11 Id. at 843-44, 347 P.3d 487 (quoting Gorman v. Garlock, Inc., 155 Wash.2d 198, 215, 118 P.3d 311 (2005) ).12 SLS does not dispute that its notice of default letter can be read as a threat to foreclose. Wash. Court of Appeals oral argument......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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