Rodrigue v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Company

PETITIONER: Rodrigue
RESPONDENT: Aetna Casualty & Surety Company
LOCATION: United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division

DOCKET NO.: 436
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 395 US 352 (1969)
ARGUED: Feb 25, 1969
DECIDED: Jun 09, 1969

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Rodrigue v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 1969 in Rodrigue v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Company

Earl Warren:

Number 436, Owlet Budrow Rodrigue, et al, petitioners, versus Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. et al.

Philip E. Henderson:

May I please --

Earl Warren:

Mr. Henderson.

Philip E. Henderson:

Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

I'm Philip Henderson from Homer, Louisiana.

In this case, there is presented the issue of whether the Death on the High Seas Act is the exclusive remedy for wrongful death occurring to one of the workers on the artificial islands, fixed platforms, in the Outer Continental Shelf, off of the Coast of Louisiana in this case.

Actually, before the Court today are two cases that came here on a joint petition for a writ of certiorari.

The two cases present exactly the same issue in the Owlet Budrow Rodrigue case.

She is suing-- she and her children are suing on-- for the death of her husband.

Budrow Rodrigue fell from the top of a derrick to his death on the drilling platform floor.

It is alleged that the death was caused by the negligence of the operator of the platform and the drilling company.

In the Dore case-- or let met continue and bring the Rodrigue case up to the Court.

Before the death, Mrs. Rodrigue brought actually three suits.

She brought one suit under the Death on the High Seas Act.

This suit was brought in admiralty.

She brought two civil action claiming that the Louisiana Death Act, which was the adjacent state in this case, and the Rodrigue death occurred on a platform which was 28 miles seaward of the Coast of Louisiana.

In these civil actions, Mrs. Rodrigue contended that the Louisiana Death Act was extended to these artificial islands by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act which specifically provides that the law of the adjacent state shall be extended to the artificial islands in the Outer Continental Shelf and shall be applied when not inconsistent with a federal law.

The cases were consolidated.

Motions were filed by the defendants to dismiss all of the claims actually contending that one of the other was an exclusive remedy.

The trial judge denied all motions.

The case was fixed for trial with the jury to hear the civil actions, the judge to hear the admiralty action concurrently.

On the morning of the trial after a jury was empanelled, the judge changed his mind and granted a motion to dismiss the civil actions.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Mr. Henderson, may I ask, whom are we indebted for this?

Philip E. Henderson:

Not many, Your Honor, just one.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

The respondent?

Philip E. Henderson:

Yes, Your Honor.

Byron R. White:

What was the question of my Brother Brennan?

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

Whose fight it is, this fight.

Byron R. White:

Do you know about this?