Claimant was employed at a soybean and grain processing refinery located on the Ohio River in Kentucky. Two docks sat next to the refinery, and barges delivered raw materials via the docks. Barges also took away finished products from the refinery. Claimant estimated that he spent sixty percent of his time “maintaining and monitoring the computerized machinery which makes the pellet feed,” but the other forty percent was spent performing deckhand duties, like maneuvering the barges at the docks. Claimant was injured when he slipped and fell while climbing from a dock onto a platform.
Claimant sought state workers’ compensation benefits but an administrative law judge determined that Claimant’s injury fell within the exclusivity provisions of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”). Ultimately, Claimant appealed this decision to the Court of Appeals of Kentucky, which affirmed.
Kentucky’s state workers’ compensation laws do not share concurrent jurisdiction with the LHWCA. The Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Act exempts from coverage “[a]ny person for whom a rule of liability for injury or death is provided by the laws of the United States[.]” Although an employer in Kentucky can elect to provide state workers’ compensation coverage, there was no evidence that this employer elected to do so. Therefore, the LHWCA’s exclusivity provision controlled and Claimant was exmpted from state workers’ compensation benefits.
(Note: I originally published this post on Navigable Waters: A Maritime, Longshore and Defense Base Act Blog.)