Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Offshore logistics v Tallentire case brief

Offshore logistics v Tallentire case brief summary
Supreme Court, 1986 - O’Connor

  • Respondents’ husbands were killed while being transported in a helicopter from a drilling platform (where they were working) to Houma, La. The crashed occurred in highs seas.
  • Respondents filed claims under the DOHSA, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) and the Louisiana wrongful death statutes.
  • Claimants want the Louisiana statute to apply for the non-pecuniary remedies.
  • Respondents want the pecuniary remedies as well as the non-pecuniary remedies provided in state statute.
  • The defendant admitted liability and the trial was limited to the question of damages.

  • DOHSA is intended to provide a maritime remedy for deaths stemming from wrongful acts or omissions occurring on the high seas.
  • OCSLA provides non-maritime remedies and controls only the subsoil and seabed of the outer continental Shelf and artificial Islands and fixed structures erected thereon, but it shall be construed that the high seas shall not be affected.
  • The OCSLA intent was to treat the artificial structures as upland islands or federal enclaves and not as vessels.
  • However, the court doesn’t permit to apply the OCSLA to the platform workers in this case who were killed miles away from the platform and on the high seas simply because they were platform workers.
  • The general scope of OCSLA is determined by the location, not by the status of the individual injured or killed.
  • In this case DOHSA applies.
  • Respondents may secure non-pecuniary damages if DOHSA doesn’t preempt state remedies.
  • However, DOHSA does preempt conflicting state wrongful death statutes. Therefore they can’t recover non-pecuniary damages.
  • Section 7 of DOHSA acts as a jurisdictional saving clause and not as a guarantee of the applicability of state substantive law to wrongful deaths on the high seas.
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