Northeast Marine Terminal Company, Inc v. Caputo International Terminal Operating Company, Inc v. Blundo, Nos. 76-444 and 76-454

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMARSHALL
Citation97 S.Ct. 2348,432 U.S. 249,53 L.Ed.2d 320
Decision Date17 June 1977
Docket NumberNos. 76-444 and 76-454
PartiesNORTHEAST MARINE TERMINAL COMPANY, INC., et al., Petitioners, v. Ralph CAPUTO et al. INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL OPERATING COMPANY, INC., Petitioner, v. Carmelo BLUNDO et al

432 U.S. 249
97 S.Ct. 2348
53 L.Ed.2d 320
NORTHEAST MARINE TERMINAL COMPANY, INC., et al., Petitioners,

v.

Ralph CAPUTO et al. INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL OPERATING COMPANY, INC., Petitioner, v. Carmelo BLUNDO et al.

Nos. 76-444 and 76-454.
Argued April 18, 1977.
Decided June 17, 1977.
Syllabus

In 1972 Congress amended the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (Act) to extend coverage to additional workers in an attempt to avoid anomalies inherent in a system that drew lines at the water's edge by allowing compensation under the Act only to workers injured on the seaward side of a pier. The relevant sections, as so amended, broadened the definition of "navigable waters of the United States" as the required situs of a compensable injury to include "any adjoining pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway, or other adjoining area customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing, or building a vessel," 33 U.S.C. § 903(a) (1970 ed., Supp. V), and also modified the definition of a covered "employee" to mean "any person engaged in maritime employment, including any longshoreman or other person engaged in longshoring operations, and any harborworker including a ship repairman, shipbuilder, and shipbreaker," 33 U.S.C. § 902(3)(1970 ed., Supp. V). Respondent Blundo, whose job as a "checker" at a pier for petitioner International Terminal Operating Co. was to check and mark cargo being unloaded from a vessel or from a container (a large metal box resembling a truck trailer without wheels) which had been taken off a vessel, was injured when, while marking cargo "stripped" (unloaded) from a container, he slipped on some ice on the pier. Respondent Caputo, who, though a member of a regular stevedoring "gang" for another company, had been temporarily hired by petitioner Northeast Marine Terminal Co. as a terminal laborer at a pier to load and unload containers, barges, and trucks, was injured while rolling a dolly loaded with ship's cargo into a consignee's truck. Compensation awards to both respondents under the Act, as amended, were upheld by the Court of Appeals. Held:

1. Both respondents satisfied the "status" test of eligibility for compensation, since they were both "engaged in maritime employment" and

Page 250

were therefore "employees" within the meaning of § 902(3) at the time of their injuries. Pp. 265-279.

(a) Congress' intent to adapt the Act to modern cargo-handling techniques, such as containerization, which have moved much of the longshoreman's work off the vessel and onto land, clearly indicates that such tasks as stripping a container are included in the category of "longshoring operations" under § 902(3), and hence it is apparent that respondent Blundo, whose task was an integral part of the unloading process as altered by the advent of containers, was a statutory "employee" when he slipped on the ice. Pp. 269-271.

(b) Both the text of the 1972 amendments to the Act, which focuses primarily on occupations (longshoreman, harbor worker, etc.), and their legislative history, which shows that Congress wanted a system that did not depend on the fortuitous circumstance of whether the injury occurred on land or over water, demonstrate that Congress intended to provide continuous coverage to amphibious workers such as longshoremen, who, without the amendments, would be covered for only part of their activity, and that therefore the amendments were meant to cover such a person as respondent Caputo, who as a member of a regular stevedoring gang worked either on the pier or on the ship, and who on the day of his injury in his job as a terminal laborer could have been assigned to a number of tasks, including stripping containers, unloading barges, and loading trucks. Pp. 271-274.

(c) Respondents' coverage as "employees" under the Act cannot be defeated by the so-called "point of rest" theory, whereby longshoremen's "maritime employment" would be considered, in the case of unloading, to be taking cargo out of a vessel's hold, moving it away from the ship's side, and carrying it to its point of rest on a pier or in a terminal shed, since that theory appears nowhere in the Act, was never mentioned by Congress during the legislative process, does not comport with Congress' intent, and restricts coverage of a remedial Act designed to extend coverage. Pp. 274-279.

2. The injuries of both respondents occurred on a "situs" covered by the Act. Pp. 279-281.

(a) The truck that respondent Caputo was helping to load was parked inside the terminal area adjoining "navigable waters of the United States." P. 279.

(b) Although respondent Blundo's injuries occurred on a pier used only for stripping and stuffing containers and for storage, rather than for loading and unloading ships, nevertheless he too satisfied the "situs" test, since the pier was located in a terminal adjoining the water, so that

Page 251

even if it is assumed that the phrase "customarily used" in § 903(a) modifies all the preceding terms, rather than only the immediately preceding term "other adjoining area," he satisfied the test by working in an "adjoining . . . terminal . . . customarily used . . . for loading (and) unloading." Pp. 279-281.

Cir., 544 F.2d 35, affirmed.

William M. Kimball, New York City, for petitioners Northeast Marine Terminal Co. et al.

E. Barrett Prettyman, Washington, D. C., for petitioner International Terminal Operating Co., Inc.

Angelo C. Gucciardo, New York City, for respondents Caputo and Blundo.

Frank H. Easterbrook, Washington, D. C., for respondent, Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, pro hac vice, by special leave of Court.

Mr. Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.

In 1972 Congress amended the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA or Act), 33 U.S.C. § 901 et seq., in substantial part to "extend (the Act's) coverage to protect additional workers." S.Rep.No.92-1125, p. 1 (1972) (hereinafter S.Rep.).1 In these consolidated cases we must determine whether respondents Caputo and Blundo, injured while working on the New York City waterfront, are

Page 252

entitled to compensation. To answer that question we must determine the reach of the 1972 Amendments.

The sections of the Act relevant to these cases are the ones providing "coverage" and defining "employee." They provide, with italics to indicate the material added in 1972:

"Compensation shall be payable . . . in respect of disability or death of an employee but only if the disability or death results from an injury occurring upon the navigable waters of the United States (including any adjoining pier, wharf, dry dock, terminal, building way, marine railway, or other adjoining area customarily used by an employer in loading, unloading, repairing, or building a vessel ). . . ." 33 U.S.C. § 903(a) (1970 ed., Supp. V).

"The term 'employee' means any person engaged in maritime employment, including any longshoreman or other person engaged in longshoring operations, and any harborworker including a ship repairman, shipbuilder, and shipbreaker, but such term does not include a master or member of a crew of any vessel, or any person engaged by the master to load or unload or repair any small vessel under eighteen tons net." 33 U.S.C. § 902(3) (1970 ed., Supp. V).

Specifically at issue here is whether respondents Caputo and Blundo were "employees" within the meaning of the Act and whether the injuries they sustained occurred on the "navigable waters of the United States."

I

At the time of his injury respondent Carmelo Blundo had been employed for five years as a "checker" by petitioner International Terminal Operating Co. (ITO) at its facility in Brooklyn, N.Y., known as the 21st Street Pier. As a checker he was responsible for checking and recording cargo as it was

Page 253

loaded onto or unloaded from vessels, barges, or containers.2 Blundo was assigned his tasks at the beginning of each day and until he arrived at the terminal he did not know whether he would be working on a ship or on shore. He was reassigned during the day if he completed the task to which he was assigned initially. App. 63-39, 112.

On January 8, 1974, ITO assigned Blundo to check cargo being "stripped" or removed from a container on the 19th Street side of the pier. The container Blundo was checking had been taken off a vessel at another pier facility outside of Brooklyn and brought overland unopened by an independent trucking company to the 21st Street Pier. It was Blundo's job to break the seal that had been placed on the container in a foreign port and show it to United States Customs Agents. After the seal was broken, Blundo was to check the contents of the container against a manifest sheet describing the cargo, the consignees, and the ship on, and port from which, the cargo had been transported. He was to mark each item of cargo with an identifying number. After the checking, the cargo was to be placed on pallets, sorted according to consignees, and put in a bonded warehouse pending customs inspection. Blundo was injured as he was marking the cargo stripped from the container, when he slipped on some ice on the pier. Id., at 69-74, 86-90.

Blundo sought compensation under the LHWCA. The Administrative Law Judge concluded that Blundo satisfied the

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coverage requirements of the Act and the Benefits Review Board (BRB) affirmed.3

Respondent Ralph Caputo was a member of a regular longshoring "gang" that worked for Pittston Stevedoring Co.4 When his gang was not needed, Caputo went to the

Page 255

waterfront hiring hall, where he was hired by the day by other stevedoring companies or terminal operators with work available. He had been hired on some occasions by Northeast Stevedoring Co. to work as a member of a stevedore gang on ships at the 39th Street Pier in Brooklyn; on other occasions he had been hired by petitioner Northeast Marine Terminal...

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505 practice notes
  • New Orleans Depot Servs., Inc. v. Dir., Office of Worker's Comp. Programs, No. 11–60057.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • April 29, 2013
    ...argues that as a compensation statute, the LHWCA should be construed liberally in favor of coverage. See Ne. Marine, 432 U.S. at 268, 97 S.Ct. 2348. However, the first rule of statutory construction is that we may not ignore the plain language of a statute. See Matter of Appletree Markets, ......
  • Bienvenu v. Texaco, Inc., No. 96-60625
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • January 11, 1999
    ...and any harborworker including a ship repairman, shipbuilder, and ship-breaker." Id. § 902(3). In Northeast Marine Terminal Co. v. Caputo, 432 U.S. 249, 97 S.Ct. 2348, 53 L.Ed.2d 320 (1977), the Supreme Court first expounded on the status test. The workers in that case were Blundo and Caput......
  • Smith v. Brown, No. 93-7043
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • August 12, 1994
    ...that courts are to construe remedial statutes liberally to effectuate their purposes. See, e.g., Northeast Marine Terminal Co. v. Caputo, 432 U.S. 249, 268, 97 S.Ct. 2348, 2359, 53 L.Ed.2d 320 (1977); Voris v. Eikel, 346 U.S. 328, 333, 74 S.Ct. 88, 91-92, 98 L.Ed. 5 (1953). Veterans benefit......
  • M.A. v. U.S. I.N.S., No. 88-3004
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • April 23, 1990
    ...judgment when the question involves the meaning of a statutory term"), aff'd sub nom. Northeast Marine Terminal Co. v. Caputo, 432 U.S. 249, 97 S.Ct. 2348, 53 L.Ed.2d 320 (1977); 5 K. Davis, Administrative Law Treatise Sec. 30:00 (Supp.1982) (agency's interpretation of a statutory term is a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
504 cases
  • New Orleans Depot Servs., Inc. v. Dir., Office of Worker's Comp. Programs, No. 11–60057.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • April 29, 2013
    ...argues that as a compensation statute, the LHWCA should be construed liberally in favor of coverage. See Ne. Marine, 432 U.S. at 268, 97 S.Ct. 2348. However, the first rule of statutory construction is that we may not ignore the plain language of a statute. See Matter of Appletree Markets, ......
  • Bienvenu v. Texaco, Inc., No. 96-60625
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • January 11, 1999
    ...and any harborworker including a ship repairman, shipbuilder, and ship-breaker." Id. § 902(3). In Northeast Marine Terminal Co. v. Caputo, 432 U.S. 249, 97 S.Ct. 2348, 53 L.Ed.2d 320 (1977), the Supreme Court first expounded on the status test. The workers in that case were Blundo and Caput......
  • Smith v. Brown, No. 93-7043
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
    • August 12, 1994
    ...that courts are to construe remedial statutes liberally to effectuate their purposes. See, e.g., Northeast Marine Terminal Co. v. Caputo, 432 U.S. 249, 268, 97 S.Ct. 2348, 2359, 53 L.Ed.2d 320 (1977); Voris v. Eikel, 346 U.S. 328, 333, 74 S.Ct. 88, 91-92, 98 L.Ed. 5 (1953). Veterans benefit......
  • M.A. v. U.S. I.N.S., No. 88-3004
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • April 23, 1990
    ...judgment when the question involves the meaning of a statutory term"), aff'd sub nom. Northeast Marine Terminal Co. v. Caputo, 432 U.S. 249, 97 S.Ct. 2348, 53 L.Ed.2d 320 (1977); 5 K. Davis, Administrative Law Treatise Sec. 30:00 (Supp.1982) (agency's interpretation of a statutory term is a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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