OCSLA, the LHWCA, Pacific Operators Offshore, LLP v. Valladolid, and the New Substantial-Nexus Requirement

Thomas C. Galligan, Jr. | Essay

In Pacific Operators Offshore, LLP v. Valladolid, the United States Supreme Court held that Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) coverage, through the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), is available to a worker whose injuries bear a “substantial nexus” to extraction operations on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). In so holding, the Court affirmed the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision and rejected the Third Circuit’s “but-for” test, the Fifth Circuit’s situs requirement, and the variant that the Solicitor General suggested under which coverage would be based on either situs (the injury actually occurred on the OCS) or status (the injury occurred off the OCS to an employee who spends a substantial amount of time working on the OCS in furtherance of the employer’s operation). The purpose of this Essay is to analyze the Valladolid decision and its potential impact on OCS/LHWCA workers’ compensation cases and beyond.