Victory for Workers Killed or Injured on Navigable Waters
- Kreindler attorneys helped preserve the right to seek generous maritime law damages under the 1927 Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).
- Defendant Lockheed Martin attempted to deny benefits to the widow of a drowned worker by claiming the decedent was not a “maritime employee” and that the barge was a fixed platform.
- Courts held that the employee only had to satisfy situs (meaning that he was on navigable waters) and status (meaning he was a covered employee).
Kreindler & Kreindler won a hard fought, significant victory for workers killed or injured on navigable waters, by preserving the right to seek generous general maritime law damages under the 1927 Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), rather than the limited state worker’s compensation schemes.
The case involved Rocco Morganti, an employee of Lockheed Martin Corporation, who drowned on Cayuga Lake in upstate New York, after a wave caused him to fall into the water while working on a research barge moored in the middle of the lake.
Mr. Morganti’s widow filed a claim for death benefits under the LHWCA, which was opposed by Lockheed Martin on the grounds that Mr. Morganti was not a “maritime employee,” and that the barge was a fixed platform, more like an artificial island. An administrative law judge found that Mr. Morganti 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 that ruling, rejecting Lockheed Martin’s transient and fortuitous argument. The Court of Appeals held that Mr. Morganti only had to satisfy situs (meaning that he was on navigable waters) and status (meaning he was a covered employee). Lockheed pressed its argument to the United States Supreme Court, which denied cert. Partners Marc Moller and Daniel Rose handled the case.
More information on this case can be found in the article “Kreindler & Kreindler LLP Wins a Maritime Wrongful Death Case – Morganti v. Lockheed”.
Photo Credit: Cayuga Lake, Patrick Kinney