Herb's Welding, Inc. v. Gray

PETITIONER: Herb's Welding, Inc.
RESPONDENT: Gray
LOCATION: New Mexico State Police Headquarters

DOCKET NO.: 83-728
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 470 US 414 (1985)
ARGUED: Oct 03, 1984
DECIDED: Mar 18, 1985

ADVOCATES:
Carolyn F. Corwin - on behalf of the federal respondent
Carolyn P Corwin - on behalf of the federal respondent
T. Gerald Henderson - on behalf of respondent Gray
Wood Brown, III - on behalf of the petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Herb's Welding, Inc. v. Gray

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 03, 1984 in Herb's Welding, Inc. v. Gray

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Herb's Welding against Gray.

Mr. Brown, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Wood Brown, III:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court, this is the case of Herb's Welding versus Gray.

It is a case involving the coverage under the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers Act to workmen on fixed platforms in inshore Louisiana waters.

Our position is that Congress did not provide for the coverage of this particular class of claimant, and that there is no justification for extending coverage to him and those like him.

The facts are stated in the Court of Appeals opinion.

The person was working as a welder on an oil production platform within the three-mile limit offshore Louisiana.

There was a gas explosion.

He was injured while he was welding.

From the record, we find that he did nothing on this work... on this platform except to weld, and he welded generally on everything, including gas lines, gradings, railings, and things like that.

The record establishes that he was doing some welding on a gas lift line and at one place in the record, and a gas flow line in the other.

That is significant because a lift line has absolutely nothing to do with transportation of the gas; a gas flow line conceivably could.

The question here, Your Honors, is not situs.

In other words, in a Longshoremen and Harbor Workers Act case, the Court has considered both situs and status.

We concede that if this person is found to be a maritime worker, that the platform itself is a place where this particular type of work is performed, and therefore situs would exist.

The question in the case is status.

In saying that, I have to start off by saying that there is really nothing maritime in the traditional sense about this type of platform.

I would like first to get into the concepts and the differences between the opponents and the applicants with respect to the details in the litigation.

I suggest to the Court that the case here, the decision in this case is controlled by the Court's previous decision in Rodrigue versus Aetna Casualty and Surety Company.

The opponents take the position that Rodrigue was a jurisdictional case.

I suggest that it is not.

I suggest that at that particular point makes no difference, because in Rodrigue this Court clearly decided that platform oilfield labor was no different from labor in the oilfields on land or anywhere else.

In other words, the type of work that this guy was doing at the time he was hurt is no different from oilfield labor anywhere else, either offshore on the Outer Continental Shelf, on the platforms inshore, or in Wyoming.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Mr. Brown?

Wood Brown, III:

Yes, ma'am.

Sandra Day O'Connor:

Did Mr. Gray spend some time doing work on movable platforms as well?

Wood Brown, III:

The record does not establish that.

To the contrary, Justice, it says that he considered himself permanently assigned to this particular field, which would have been on fixed platforms.

To completely answer your question--

Sandra Day O'Connor:

If he did spend time doing this kind of work also on movable platforms, would he be covered because of the Caputo doctrine and holding?