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Washington USL&H Assigned Risk Plan

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NOVEMBER 25, 2019
International-Matex Tank Terminals v. Dir., OWCP (United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (November 25, 2019, Filed No. 18-60662

This is a noteworthy case out of the 5th Circuit which defined what constitutes a marine terminal. The act has always referred to terminals, but never defined the term. The 5th Circuit looked at an OSHA regulation, and defined a marine terminal as follows: “wharves, bulkheads, quays, piers, docks and other berthing locations and adjacent storage or adjacent areas and structures associated with the primary movement of cargo or materials from vessel to shore or shore to vessel including structures which are devoted to receiving, handling, holding, consolidating and loading or delivery of waterborne shipments or passengers.” What is noteworthy, is that some of the areas listed had often been looked at under an ‘adjoining area analysis, but now if an area fits into the OSHA marine terminal definition, it is considered an enumerated site.

The court reviewed a LONGSHORE AND HARBOR WORKERS' COMPENSATION ACT claim. The Court agreed with the Benefits Review Board’s conclusion that the work fulfilled the LHWCA's situs requirement because the facility where he worked adjoined navigable waters (meeting the geographic component) and qualified as a "terminal" under 33 U.S.C.S. § 903(a) and served the maritime purpose of loading and unloading vessels (meeting the functional component); [2]-Findings as to the worker's maritime status were supported by substantial evidence because the worker was tasked with monitoring and effecting the flow of oil products, opening and closing manifolds to direct flow, and communicating with other team members to ensure vessels were loaded and unloaded properly; [3]-The worker was diligent in trying to secure alternative employment, as shown by a job application log he created, and testimony from the worker's wife.

The outcome was that the petition for review was denied.

JANUARY 17, 2020

OWCP establishes three new compensation districts for the Longshore Program

On January 17, 2020, ANTONIO A. RIOS, Acting Director Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation, issued Industry Notice #175 notice to all stakeholders in the LHWCA on the subject of:

Consolidating District Offices and Revising Administrative Case Assignment. The Notice clarifies that Effective April 6, 2020, the Secretary, through his delegated official, the Director, OWCP, is establishing three new compensation districts for the Longshore Program by consolidating existing districts and re-designating existing district offices as sub-offices of the new compensation districts. This action is in accordance with 20 CFR 702.102 and 33 U.S.C. § 939(b) to more efficiently administer the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”) and its extensions.

The three new compensation districts established by the Secretary are to be known as the Eastern, Western, and Southern Districts and all existing offices will become sub-offices of the three new districts:


  • Eastern Compensation District – will comprise the jurisdictions covered by the offices currently based in Boston, Massachusetts; New York, New York; and Norfolk, Virginia.
  • Western Compensation District – will comprise the jurisdictions covered by the offices currently based in Long Beach, California; San Francisco, California; and Seattle, Washington.
  • Southern Compensation District – will comprise the jurisdictions covered by the offices currently based in Jacksonville, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Houston, Texas.


Existing cases will continue to be administered by OWCP from the offices where they currently reside. Going forward, the Secretary may transfer cases within the new compensation districts to evenly distribute workload.

Effective April 6, 2020, all newly created LHWCA, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”), and Nonappropriated Fund Instrumentalities Act (“NAFIA”) claims where injuries occur within the United States will be assigned to the Eastern, Western, or Southern compensation district based on the place of injury without distinction as to the sub-office.

Additionally, all newly created cases will be distributed for assignment on a rotating basis amongst the sub-offices. The only exceptions are:

  • Defense Base Act ("DBA") cases where claimant resides in the United States: These cases will continue to be assigned to the sub-office based on where the claimant resides. See Industry Notice 122.
  • DBA cases where the claimant resides outside of the United States and NAFIA cases where injury occurs outside of the United States and the claimant resides outside of the U.S.: These cases will continue to be assigned to the sub-office based on place of injury. However, consistent with 20 CFR § 704.101 and prior district office consolidations set out in prior Industry Notices (Numbers 106, 115, and 174), the OWCP has determined that cases involving injuries occurring in areas formerly assigned to:


  1. District 1 will be assigned to the Eastern Compensation District, sub=office in Boston, Massachusetts.
  2. District 2 will be assigned to the Eastern Compensation District, sub-office in New York, New York.
  3. District 10 will be assigned to the Southern Compensation District, sub-office in Houston, Texas.
  4. Districts 14 and 15 will be assigned to the Western Compensation District, sub-office in Long Beach, California.


The Notice goes on to say: Nothing in this Notice is intended to have any impact on where litigation of claims takes place under the LHWCA or any of its extensions. Also, the list of compensation districts and their respective sub-offices will be viewable online effective April 6, 2020. If you have any questions, please direct them to your local District Director.

Currently, in the Northwest, that contact information is:

Longshore District Office 14, Seattle

U.S. Department of Labor

OWCP/DLHWC

300 5th Avenue, Suite 1050L

Seattle, WA 98104

Phone: (206) 504-5287

Fax: (206) 467-1073

District Director: R. Todd Bruininks