Admiralty- “Twilight Zone” In Workmen’s Compensation – Pursuit of State Common Law Action Against Employer
Petitioner was injured on his employer’s barge moored in navigable waters while assisting in a loading operation. The employer was insured solely under the Federal Longshoremen’s and Harbor Workers’ Act. Instead of pursuing the remedy available under the federal act, petitioner brought the common law action authorized by state workmen’s compensation legislation in the state courts. The Oregon Supreme Court affirmed judgment for the employer on the ground that the injury was covered exclusively by the federal act. On certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, held, reversed per curiam, two justices dissenting. The injury was incurred within the “twilight zone” in which the election of forum by the claimant will be judicially respected. The applicability of the state law is not determined by the scope of the employer’s insurance coverage. Hahn v. Ross Island Sand & Gravel Co., 358 U.S. 272 (1959).