Oral argument: Oct. 11, 2011
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (May 13, 2010)
Juan Valladolid, an employee of the Petitioner, Pacific Operators Offshore, died when a forklift crushed him at Pacific's oil-processing facility on the California coast. Valladolid’s widow filed a claim for federal workers’ compensation under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”), but the claim was rejected because Valladolid died on land rather than on the outer continental shelf. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that OCSLA benefits are not limited to injuries or deaths that occur on the outer continental shelf. Rather, the court held, coverage depends on the existence of a causal nexus between the injury or death and operations on the outer continental shelf. Petitioner Pacific argues that OCSLA contains a strict “situs-of-injury” requirement, while Respondent Valladolid contends that such a requirement would defeat Congressional intent. The Supreme Court’s decision will resolve a longstanding question of statutory interpretation, and may shed light on the Court’s current approach to workers’ compensation laws.