Fifth Circuit Affirms Preemption of Claims Under Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

In a per curiam opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit addressed the appeal of pro se appellant, Johnny Kirkland. He alleged suffering injuries as a result of asbestos exposure while working for Huntington Ingalls in the 1970s. The district court found that plaintiff’s claims related exclusively to his work for Huntington Ingalls in the field of ship construction and repair, and were therefore governed by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The plaintiff did not dispute that the Huntington Ingalls is covered by the LHWCA, but instead argued that his specific claims fell outside the scope of the statute due to the dual capacity doctrine. Under that doctrine, a plaintiff may sue an employer otherwise covered by the LHWCA for negligence in its capacity as a vessel owner as if it were a third party. However, the plaintiff did not allege that the was injured by the negligence of one of Huntington’s vessels. Accordingly, the dual capacity doctrine did not apply. The district court’s ruling was therefore affirmed.

Only the Westlaw citation is currently available at 2019 WL 1277552.