Morganti v. Lockheed Martin
- The case involved an employee working on a research barge who drowned on Cayuga Lake after a wave swept him into the water.
- Lockheed Martin attempted to deny benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) on grounds that the victim was not a “maritime employee” and the barge was a fixed platform.
- the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled against the defendant citing both situs and status were satisfied under the LHWCA.
U.S. Supreme Court refuses to upset Kreindler & Kreindler LLP’s victory for workers injured on navigable waters, leading to confidential settlement
The case involved an employee of Lockheed Martin Corporation, who drowned on Cayuga Lake in upstate New York, after a wave swept him into the water while working on a research barge moored in the middle of the lake. The victim’s widow filed a claim for death benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), which was opposed by Lockheed Martin on the grounds that her husband was not a “maritime employee” and the barge was a fixed platform, more like an artificial island.
An administrative law judge found the victim was only transiently and fortuitously on navigable waters and denied the claim. That decision was appealed to the Benefits Review Board, which reversed the denial of benefits. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed and rejected Lockheed Martin’s transient and fortuitous argument, holding that only two factors had to be satisfied under the Act: situs (navigable waters) and status (employee). Lockheed pressed its argument to the United States Supreme Court, which rejected its appeal.
The original LHWCA was passed in 1927 to provide a scheme of compensation for maritime workers who felll outside state worker compensation schemes. It remains a useful tool for workers injured on navigable waters, even those employees who don’t have a traditional maritime purpose. The LHWCA often permits compensation far beyond that granted by state workers’ compensation laws.
More information on this case can be found in the article “Kreindler & Kreindler LLP Wins a Maritime Wrongful Death Case – Morganti v. Lockheed” and the Kreindler Standard article “U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Upset Kreindler & Kreindler LLP’s Victory for Workers Injured on Navigable Waters – Morganti v. Lockheed”.
Photo Credit: Cayuga Lake, seabamirum