Judge Rules Mesothelioma Worker’s Lawsuit Against Avondale Shipyard Can Proceed

Felton Robichaux’s malignant mesothelioma diagnosis came after years of working as a land-based insulator and carpenter at Avondale Shipyard. He filed suit against the company and the shipyard responded by seeking dismissal of the case. Though they argued that his claim under state law was precluded by the rules of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana denied their petition.

shipyard work

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In seeking compensation from the company, the mesothelioma victim filed a negligence claim under state law, but Avondale argued that since Robichaux qualified as an injured maritime worker, the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA) requires that he seeks no-fault compensation through that venue. They asked for partial summary judgment in the case, but upon examining the details of the case, U.S. District Judge Darrel James Papillion denied the motion. 

In his review, Judge Papillion noted that Robichaux’s claim pointed to the exposure that he’d suffered at Avondale’s shipyard between 1961 and 1979. He noted that an extension of the terms of the LHWCA created a “twilight zone’ in which injured maritime workers could choose whether to seek compensation under the LHWCA or the Workmen’s Compensation Law of the State in which the injury occurred. However, the version of the Louisiana State Worker’s Compensation Act that was in effect during the time of Robichaux’s shipyard exposure did not specifically list mesothelioma as a disease, and as a result, he was limited to choosing either the LHWCA or state law remedy.

Previous Court Decision Enables Mesothelioma Claim to Move Forward

Based on a decision made in a previous case, the judge said that the LHWCA did not prevent the mesothelioma victim from pursuing his personal injury claim because of the specific circumstances of his case: he was a maritime worker, injured in the area referred to as a twilight zone, in Louisiana, who did not seek nor obtain LHWCA compensation, and whose injuries were not covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act. Because he did not seek or obtain LHWCA compensation, his personal injury claim can proceed.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, it’s important that you seek help from professionals who are experienced and knowledgeable. For information on the support available from the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net, contact us today at 1-800-692-8608. 

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our Mesothelioma.net news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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