Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) Case Update

In Expeditors and Production Service Company, Inc. v. Director, OWCP (Garrick Spain), No. 18-60895 (5th Cir. Nov. 4, 2019), the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the lower administrative rulings finding that an employee injured in his living quarters was covered under the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The employee, Mr. Spain, was employed by Expeditors and Production Service Company to work for Anadarko Petroleum as a shipping and receiving dispatcher.

Mr. Spain was required by his employer to live in a provided, on-premises trailer, and he worked at another nearby location. He slipped and fell at the mobile home trailer and sustained injuries for which he claimed compensation benefits.

The employer argued that because Spain’s injury occurred where he lived rather than where he worked, he should not be able to claim benefits under the LHWCA. The court reaffirmed stating a prior court ruling that, “the test of recovery is not a causal relationship between the nature of employment of the injured person and the accident….All that is required is that the obligations or conditions of employment create the zone of special danger out of which the injury arose.” O’Leary v Brown-Pacific-Maxon, Inc., 340 U.S. 504, 506 (1951). Here, Spain was assigned to the trailer, he was always on call, and could not leave the trailer even when not performing work duties; therefore, he could recover under the LHWCA.

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