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RODRIGUE V. AETNA CAS. & SUR. CO., 395 U. S. 352 (1969)

U.S. Supreme Court

Rodrigue v. Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co., 395 U.S. 352 (1969)

Rodrigue v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co.

No. 436

Argued February 25, 1969

Decided June 9, 1969

395 U.S. 352


Two men were killed while working on artificial island drilling rigs located on the Continental Shelf more than a marine league from the Louisiana coast. The men's families brought suits for wrongful death in the District Courts (1) under the Death on the High Seas Act ("Seas Act"), which provides an admiralty action for recovery of pecuniary loss for deaths due to wrongful actions or omissions "occurring on the high seas" more than a marine league off the coast, and (2) under Louisiana law (which would have allowed recovery for additional elements of damage) as assertedly made applicable by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act ("Lands Act"). In each case, the District Court held that the Seas Act provided the exclusive remedy, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: Petitioners' remedy is under the Lands Act and Louisiana law. Under the Lands Act, federal law, supplemented by the law of the adjacent State not inconsistent with federal law, is to be applied to artificial islands, which Congress clearly intended were to be treated as islands or federal enclaves within a landlocked State and not as vessels subject to admiralty jurisdiction. Pp. 395 U. S. 355-366.

391 F.2d 671 and 395 F.2d 216, reversed and remanded.

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