Keller Foundation v. Tracy

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Workers Compensation
  • Date Filed: 09-20-2012
  • Case #: 11-71703
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Ikuta for the Court; Circuit Judges Tashima and Tallman.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Court held that when a worker is injured overseas, he is not eligible for workers' compensation under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, because work overseas does not satisfy the status and situs tests, which include that the injury must take place in the navigable waters of the United States.

Tracy was hired by Global International Offshore Ltd. in March of 1998 as a barge foreman. He worked for Global on various assignments from 1998 to 2003, including on the Iroquois while it was docked in Louisiana. When that work ended, he was assigned to another ship, again as a foreman. In 2002, Tracy suffered a heart attack. In 2003, he filed a claim for hearing loss, upper extremity trauma, and a heart condition under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (the Act). Global rejected his claim, and Tracy appealed to an Administrative Law Judge. The judge found that Tracy's injuries were not covered under the Act, because Tracy did not satisfy the status and situs tests. Tracy appealed. The Ninth Circuit noted that the two-part status test looked to determine (1) whether the employee's duties “contribut[e] to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission” and (2) whether the employee had a substantial "connection to a vessel in navigation." The Court found that Tracy did not satisfy the second part of the status test during his assignment to the Iroquois, as Tracy spent more than thirty percent of his time “in the service of a vessel in navigation," exceeding the thirty percent maximum set out by the Act. Second, the Court found that Tracy's claim failed the situs test, which allows for "recovery for a work-related injury as long as the injury occurred on 'navigable waters'" of the United States. Tracy alleged that his injuries occurred in the ports of Indonesia and Singapore. Finally, Tracy claimed that his contract with Global provided for workers' compensation in his country of origin. However, the Court found no evidence in the record that Tracy detrimentally relied on his contract. AFFIRMED.

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