The deceased, a structural steelworker, was employed to dismantle an abandoned drawbridge which spanned a navigable river. At the time of the accident, he was examining steel which had been cut from the bridge and lowered into a barge used to haul it to the storage point and from this barge "he either fell or was knocked into the river." The company which employed him was a contributor to the Washington Compensation Fund, a compulsory act for employers engaged in the type of work for which the deceased had been employed. In this proceeding the widow appealed on writ of certiorari from a decision in which the Washington Supreme Court held that she could not, consistently with the federal Constitution, recover an award under the state compensation law for the death of her husband. The opinion of the Washington court was based on the ground that .to allow the state law to operate in this case would work material prejudice to the characteristic features of the general maritime law. Held, the state court is reversed. In view of the difficulty involved in formulating any guiding, definite rule to determine the extent and limits within which state laws may validly provide compensation for employees injured on navigable waters, the courts will rely "heavily" on the presumption of constitutionality in favor of the state enactments and in each case presume that the jurisdiction in which the action is brought is the correct one. Davis v. Department of Labor and Industries of State of Washington, 317 U.S. 249, 63 S. Ct. 225 (1942).
Arthur B. Lathrop,
WORKMEN'S COMPENSATION - ADMIRALTY JURISDICTION,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol41/iss6/18