Acting under our supervisory jurisdiction (Article VII, Section 11, Louisiana Constitution of 1921, LSA) we granted certiorari from a judgment of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit (123 So.2d 780), which reversed a judgment of the trial court overruling defendants' exception to the jurisdiction of the court ratione materiae. This case was consolidated for argument with No. 45,455, Stepter v. T. Smith & Sons, Inc., 241 La. 465, 129 So.2d 740,—a like suit arising out of an accident similar to the one herein involved—in which certiorari was granted in order that we might review the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit (123 So.2d 788), affirming a judgment of the trial court which maintained the defendant's exception to the jurisdiction of the court ratione materiae.
Plaintiff Herbert S. Ellis, employed as a longshoreman for Standard Stevedoring Company, Inc., sustained injuries on January 31 or February 1, 1958, being struck by a load of cotton, while working on board the S. S. Steel Artisan in the No. 2 Hatch. The vessel was docked in the Mississippi River at the Poland Street Wharf in the City of New Orleans. Plaintiff's suit for total disability was brought against his employer and its insurer, the Travelers Insurance Company, under the Louisiana Workmen's Compensation Act.
Defendants urged an exception to the jurisdiction of the trial court ratione materiae, averring that the court was without jurisdiction for the reason that plaintiff's sole remedy was under the Federal Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Act, 33 U.S.C.A. § 901 et seq. They answered
The trial court, after overruling defendants' exception to the jurisdiction ratione materiae, rendered judgment for total disability in favor of plaintiff; the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's judgment on the exception; and, this matter has been submitted for our review.
In Case No. 45,455, Stepter v. T. Smith & Sons, Inc., 241 La. 465, 129 So.2d 740, plaintiff William Stepter sustained injuries on March 27, 1957, while working as a longshoreman, unloading bulk iron by means of a scoop, aboard (in the hold) the Vessel S. S. Orland (registered in Bergen, Norway, and engaged in interstate and/or foreign commerce) afloat on navigable waters, either the Mississippi River or the Industrial Canal. Stepter brought suit for total disability against his employer, T. Smith and Sons, Inc., under the Louisiana Workmen's Compensation Act.
In Stepter's case the trial court maintained an exception to its jurisdiction ratione materiae filed by the defendant, holding that the matter came within the Federal Maritime jurisdiction; the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of the trial court; and, the matter has been submitted for our review. Although a separate decree will be rendered therein, the reasoning herein applies thereto.
Jurisdiction is the sole issue presented for our determination. Must longshoremen, injured aboard ocean-going vessels, afloat on navigable waters and engaged in interstate commerce, while working in the course of maritime employment, seek redress under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (33 U.S.C.A. § 901 et seq.) or under the Louisiana Workmen's Compensation Act (LSA-R.S. 23:1021 et seq.)? Did the injuries suffered by plaintiffs occur in the so-called "Twilight Zone,", thereby entitling them to select the jurisdiction of their choice?
In order to answer the questions which we have propounded to ourselves, we feel compelled to review the line of jurisprudence demarcating between Federal and State jurisdictions.
Going back to the year 1916, we find the parent case of Southern Pacific Company v. Jensen, 244 U.S. 205, 37 S.Ct. 524, 61 L. Ed. 1086, written by Mr. Justice McReynolds.
Christen Jensen, an employee of the Southern Pacific Company,
The Workmen's Compensation Commission of New York, acting under State statute, awarded the wife of the deceased and his children compensation. Southern Pacific Company objected to the award upon
In holding that the matter was without State jurisdiction, the United States Supreme Court stated that by Section 9 of the Judiciary Act of 1789, the district courts of the United States were given exclusive original cognizance of all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, saving to suitors, in all cases, the right of a common-law remedy, where the common law is competent to give it. It held [244 U.S. 205, 37 S.Ct. 528]:
Congress amended the Judicial Code in 1917, in an endeavor to afford maritime workers redress under State Compensation Laws in case of injuries.
In 1920, in the case of Knickerbocker Ice Company v. Stewart, 253 U.S. 149, 40 S.Ct. 438, 64 L.Ed. 834, the Supreme Court of the United States (Mr. Justice McReynolds, the organ of the Court) held the amendment unconstitutional as applied to the deceased. Therein, William M. Stewart, while employed by Knickerbocker Ice Company as a bargeman and doing work of a maritime nature, fell into the Hudson River and drowned August 3, 1918; thereafter, his widow was allowed compensation under the New York Compensation Law. The United States Supreme Court found that the Court of Appeals of New York (226 N.Y. 302, 123 N.E. 382) was in error in approving the award under the Act of Congress of 1917.
In 1922, in the cases of Grant Smith-Porter Ship Company v. Rohde, 257 U.S. 469, 42 S.Ct. 157, 66 L.Ed. 321, and State Industrial Commission of State of New York v. Nordenholt Corporation, 259 U.S. 263, 42 S.Ct. 473, 474, 66 L.Ed. 933, the United States Supreme Court (Mr. Justice McReynolds, the organ of the Court) permitted recovery under State Compensation Laws; in one instance because of the locale of the work and in the other because the work was local in nature.
In the Nordenholt case, supra, a longshoreman, acting in the scope of his employment on the dock, slipped and fell on the dock and died from his injuries. In allowing recovery under the State Compensation Act, the Court stated:
In 1922, Congress passed an act (42 Stat. at L. 634, Comp.Stat. Sec. 991(3), Fed.Stat. Anno.Supp.1922, p. 225, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1333), whereby it again attempted to give to claimants of compensation, for injuries suffered during the course of admiralty or maritime work, relief under State Workmen's Compensation Laws.
This 1922 Act of Congress was declared unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court (Mr. Justice McReynolds, organ of the Court), in 1924, in the case of State of Washington v. W. C. Dawson & Co., 264 U.S. 219, 44 S.Ct. 302, 305, 68 L.Ed. 646. In this case, questions were presented as to whether one engaged in the business of stevedoring, whose employees worked only on board ships in the navigable waters of Puget Sound, could be compelled to contribute to the accident fund provided for by the Workmen's Compensation Act of Washington because of the passage of the 1922 Act, supra; and, whether Workmen's Compensation could be awarded for the death of a workman killed while actually engaged in maritime work, discharging cargo, under maritime contract, upon a vessel moored at her dock in San Francisco Bay. The Court answered negatively, stating:
In 1927, Congress passed the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C.A. § 901 et seq. Section 903 provided:
In Nogueira v. New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company, 281 U.S. 128, 50 S.Ct. 303, 305, 74 L.Ed. 754, the U. S. Supreme Court, in speaking of the above act, stated, "When the bill which became the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act was pending in Congress, the importance of the policy of compensation acts, and their advantages in providing for appropriate compensation in the case of injury or death of employees, without regard to the fault of the employer, were distinctly recognized. * * There was no exclusion of stevedores or of those sustaining injuries upon navigable waters in loading or unloading a vessel unless it was under eighteen tons net. The application of the act in such cases was explicitly made to depend upon the question whether the injury occurred upon navigable waters and recovery therefor could not validly be provided by a state compensation statute." See, also, South Chicago Coal & Dock Company v. Bassett, 309 U.S. 251, 60 S.Ct. 544, 84 L.Ed. 732; Diomede v. Lowe, 2 Cir., 87 F.2d 296; Moran Bros. Contracting Co. v. Diomede, 301 U.S. 682, 57 S.Ct. 783, 81 L.Ed. 1340.
The Nogueira case, supra, recognized the principle that the locale of the injury determined the jurisdiction of an action for compensation. The Court held that the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act afforded an exclusive remedy to a freight handler who suffered personal injuries while engaged in loading freight into cars on a car float, lying in navigable waters, used as an adjunct to railroad transportation in interstate commerce.
In John Baizley Iron Works v. Span, 1930, 281 U.S. 222, 50 S.Ct. 306, 307, 74 L.Ed. 819, Mr. Justice McReynolds, again the organ of the Court, held that the provisions of a State Workmen's Compensation Act did not apply to an employee of one engaged in making repairs to a completed vessel lying in navigable waters. The Court made the pertinent statement:— "What work has direct relation to navigation or commerce must, of course, be determined in view of surrounding circumstances as cases arise."
In 1940, Rodney Rhinehart was drowned when he fell into the Mississippi River from a barge—owned by his employer, T. Smith & Son, Inc.—which he was compelled to traverse in leaving the S. S. Ada O, where he had been engaged in work as a longshoreman. An action for damages under Article 2315 of the Revised Civil Code of Louisiana-LSA, or, in the alternative, for compensation under the Louisiana Employers' Liability Act, or, further alternatively, under the Merchant Marine Act, was filed by the deceased's surviving brother and sister. The Court of Appeal, Rhinehart v. T. Smith & Son, 14 So.2d 287, 292, (Judge McCaleb, organ of the court), in affirming the judgment of the trial court which had sustained the defendant's plea to the jurisdiction and dismissed the plaintiffs' suit, found, "Thus, it is apparent that plaintiffs have no right of action to sue for the death of their brother under Article 2315 of the Civil Code, since this right was specifically superseded by Congress in the Longshoremen's & Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. * * *"
At the end of 1942, the "Twilight Zone" doctrine emerged. This doctrine enabled an injured waterfront worker to elect between the Federal or State remedies in doubtful cases.
Up to the time of the Davis case, supra, the jurisdiction, as above cited and quoted, seemed clear that when a longshoreman experienced an injury during the course of his maritime employment on navigable waters, his redress was in the Federal Courts, first under the law of admiralty and later (1927 and the following years) under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act; if his injuries occurred on land, usually on the dock, his remedy was in the State Courts under the State Compensation Laws or Negligence Statutes. After the Davis case, there ensued a number of cases encompassed within what the courts classed as the "doubtful area." Plaintiffs herein contend that these "doubtful
In Moores's Case, 323 Mass. 162, 80 N.E.2d 478, 481, the injured employee was awarded compensation under the State Workmen's Compensation Law. His occupation was that of a "tag man," the major portion of his work being performed on piers; occasionally he was required to go aboard vessels. On June 28, 1945, while aboard a disabled vessel in dry dock, fastened to a pier to which it was berthed by bolts spanning a distance of three or four feet from the pier itself, the employee slipped on the step of a gun mount and suffered the injuries for which he sought compensation. The employee testified that at the time he was injured he was going to get where his crane operator could see him, so that he could give signals.
In affirming the award of the Superior Court in the Moores's Case, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, after a review of the prior jurisprudence which we have also reviewed, stated, "Probably therefore our proper course is not to attempt to reason the matter through and to reconcile previous authorities, or to preserve fine lines of distinction, but rather simply to recognize the futility of attempting to reason logically about `illogic,' and to regard the Davis case as intended to be a revolutionary decision deemed necessary to escape an intolerable situation and as designed to include within a wide circle of doubt all water front cases involving aspects pertaining both to the land and to the sea where a reasonable argument can be made either way, even though a careful examination of numerous previous decisions might disclose an apparent weight of authority one way or the other. We can see no other manner in which the Davis case can be given the effect that we must suppose the court intended it should have, and we must assume that the court intends to follow that case in the future." On appeal, the United States Supreme Court stated, "The judgment is affirmed. Davis v. Department of Labor & Industries, 317 U.S. 249, 63 S.Ct. 225, 87 L.Ed. 246." Bethlehem Steel Co. v. Moore, 335 U.S. 874, 69 S.Ct. 239, 93 L. Ed. 417.
In Baskin v. Industrial Accident Commission, 89 Cal.App.2d 632, 201 P.2d 549, the District Court of Appeal denied plaintiff's demand for compensation under State law, holding that the matter was exclusively within Federal jurisdiction. Plaintiff was a materialman whose work was performed almost entirely on shore or on ships under construction. A crane on the wharf moved materials from place to place on the S. S. William Moultrie, which was undergoing repairs on one of its holds. The crane's boom could not reach the planks already on board, to move them from one hold to another, and it became necessary to send men aboard to do so. Despite standing instructions that Baskin should not be sent aboard ships under repair, he was ordered onto the Moultrie to help and while there fell down a hold and was seriously and permanently injured. The United States Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the District Court of Appeal, stating that Moores's Case, supra, was not available to the District Court of Appeal at the time of its consideration of the cause. 338 U.S. 854, 70 S.Ct. 99, 94 L.Ed. 523.
In the case of Beadle v. Massachusetts Bonding & Insurance Company, La.App., 87 So.2d 339, Beadle, a seaman, was operating his personal motor boat on an errand for his employer at the time of his death. In sustaining the widow's action under the Louisiana Workmen's Compensation Statute for the death of her husband, the Court of Appeal held that in view of the Davis case, supra, the remedies overlapped and plaintiff had her choice of either the Federal or State forum.
In the instant matter, the case of Richard v. Lake Charles Stevedores, Inc., La.App. 1957, 95 So.2d 830, 833, is the principal authority upon which plaintiffs rely and was the basis of the judgment of the trial court overruling the exception to the jurisdiction ratione materiae filed by Travelers Insurance
This Court refused to issue Certiorari in the Richard case, supra, stating, "Writs refused. Judgment correct." The United States Supreme Court, 355 U.S. 952, 78 S.Ct. 535, 2 L.Ed.2d 529, denied a petition for certiorari.
Hahn v. Ross Island Sand & Gravel Co., 214 Or. 1, 320 P.2d 668, was a personal injury action under the Oregon Employers' Liability Act, ORS 654.305 et seq. Plaintiff's general duties were on a dredge anchored to the shore; he looked after the machinery of the dredge and operated a winch to move the barge into position. He was injured while performing a different type of work; he was ordered to assist in transferring a large gravel bin or hopper, used for loading sand and gravel into trucks, from one barge to another. Plaintiff climbed to the top rung of a ladder nailed to the hopper and then experienced a fall when the ladder gave way. He landed on his back on hard-packed sand in the barge, receiving serious injuries. The Supreme Court of Oregon affirmed the lower court's ruling that plaintiff's sole remedy was under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. The United States Supreme Court, 1959, 358 U.S. 272, 79 S.Ct. 266, 267, 3 L.Ed.2d 292, recognized the limitation of Southern Pacific Company v. Jensen, supra, but reversed the judgment of the Oregon Supreme Court, finding that petitioner's injury occurred in the "twilight zone." It pertinently stated by Per Curiam:
In Flowers v. Travelers Insurance Company, 5 Cir., 1958, 258 F.2d 220, 221, the United States Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment of the trial court holding that a workman injured while performing duties as a welder in making repairs on the S. S. Redstone, a large ocean-going tanker, floating dry-dock in Todd Shipyard in Galveston Harbor, could recover compensation under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act. The Court of Appeals was of the opinion that the work the employee was doing was maritime. "For the repair of an existing vessel is one of the most ancient of maritime transactions giving rise even to that most cherished and characteristic badge—the formidable lien in rem." It discussed at length the holding of the Richard case, supra, and several other decisions as follows:
The United States Supreme Court refused Certiorari in the Flowers case, supra, 359 U.S. 920, 79 S.Ct. 591, 3 L.Ed.2d 582; petition for rehearing denied, 1959, 359 U.S. 956, 79 S.Ct. 741, 3 L.Ed.2d 764.
Lastly, we cite Noah v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, 267 F.2d 218, 219, in which case the U. S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, was of the definite opinion that Hahn v. Ross Island Sand & Gravel Co., supra, did not go so far as to hold that a longshoreman is in the twilight zone; the Court said, "The effect of such a holding would be to overrule by implication Southern Pacific Company v. Jensen * * * and to expand the twilight zone to the point where all amphibious workers would be in the twilight zone, contrary to Davis v. Department of Labor and Industries of Washington, * * *" The Court held that a longshoreman, who was drowned while loading a ship in the Mississippi River, was covered by the Federal Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Act and not by the Louisiana Workmen's Compensation Act.
From the above jurisprudence, quoted and summarized, we conclude that the Jensen doctrine has not been overruled by the Davis case, supra. See, Pennsylvania Railroad Company v. O'Rourke, 344 U.S. 334, 73 S.Ct. 302, 97 L.Ed. 367. As stated by the Court of Appeal, in the instant matter, two exceptions to the Jensen doctrine have arisen with the passage of time and the evolving jurisprudence, namely, (a) the maritime but local rule, and (b) the "Twilight Zone" doctrine. Rationalizing the Jensen doctrine and its exceptions, we conclude that longshoremen injured while performing maritime work on ocean-going vessels, afloat on navigable waters, are not performing work so local in character as to allow them redress for their injuries under the State Workmen's Compensation Act. Hahn v. Ross Island Sand & Gravel Co., supra; Flowers v. Travelers Insurance Company, supra; Noah v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, supra. We have no doubt as to where such injuries occur and see no reason for placing the harmful events in the "Twilight Zone." Moores's Case, supra, Baskin v. Industrial Accident Commission, supra, and Davis v. Department of Labor and Industries, supra, are not apposite.
While the holding in Richard v. Lake Charles Stevedores, Inc., supra, is divergent
In the instant matter, we find that Robert S. Ellis and William Stepter were longshoremen and were performing maritime work at the time of their injuries; they were injured aboard ocean-going vessels, afloat on navigable waters; their employers were engaged in fulfilling contracts strictly maritime in character and of an interstate nature. We, therefore, conclude that plaintiffs' exclusive remedy was under the Federal Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Act, supra.
For the reasons assigned, the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit, is affirmed.