Davis v. Department of Labor and Industries
317 U.S. 249 (1942)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Davis v. Department of Labor and Industries, 317 U.S. 249 (1942)

Davis v. Department of Labor and Industries

No. 86

Argued November 18, 1942

Decided December 14, 1942

317 U.S. 249

Syllabus

An employee of a construction company, which was a contributor to the workmen's compensation fund of the State, was employed in or about the dismantling of an abandoned bridge over a navigable stream, which involved cutting steel from the bridge, lowering it to a barge, and towing or hauling the barge, when loaded, to a storage place. He had helped to cut some steel from the bridge, and, at the time of the accident, was working on the barge, examining steel after it had been lowered and cutting the pieces to proper lengths, as necessary. While so employed, he fell or was knocked into the stream, in which his body was found.

Held:

1. That there is no constitutional objection to an award to the decedent's widow under the Washington Act, which provides compensation for employees, or dependents of employees, such as decedent,

Page 317 U. S. 250

if application of the Act can be made "within the legislative jurisdiction of the State," and which expressly covers "all employers or workmen . . . engaged in maritime occupations for whom no right or obligation exists under the maritime laws," and that the Federal Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Act, under which no administrative action had been taken, did not exclude such application of the state law. P. 317 U. S. 255.

2. certain employees such as decedent are in a twilight zone of jurisdiction, and the determination as to whether they are subject to a state act or to the Federal Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Act is largely a question of fact. P. 317 U. S. 256.

3. Faced with this factual problem, courts will give presumptive weight to the conclusions of the appropriate federal authorities and to state statutes. P. 317 U. S. 256.

4. Not only does the state Act in this case appear to cover the employee, aside from the constitutional consideration, but no conflicting process of federal administration is apparent. Under all the circumstances of the case, the Court relies on the presumption of constitutionality in favor of the state enactment. Giving full weight to the presumption, and resolving all doubts in favor of the Act, the Court holds that the Constitution is no obstacle to the petitioner's recovery. P. 317 U. S. 258.

12 Wash.2d 349, 121 P.2d 365, reversed.

Certiorari, 316 U.S. 657, to review a judgment rejecting a claim made under the state workmen's compensation law.

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