Disputes arising in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) following Hurricane Ida can be subject to three bodies of law: maritime law, federal law under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), and state law, whether surrogate federal law under the OCSLA or within territorial waters. Jurisdiction for claims arising in the GOM is generally a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 subject to the saving to suitors clause in certain maritime-related claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1333(1). Jurisdictional issues can be complicated and fact-based where maritime and non-maritime “services” are “mixed,” as discussed in Baker v. Hercules Offshore, Inc., 706 F.3d 680 (5th Cir. 2013).
The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), as defined, consists of submerged lands, subsoil, and seabed in a specified zone up to 200 or more nautical miles seaward of the adjacent states’ jurisdiction. The OCSLA, 43 U.S.C. § 1331, et seq., regulating OCS operations extends federal jurisdiction to OCS operations and resources under 43 U.S.C. § 1349(b). Likewise, the OCSLA extends the benefits conferred by the Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act (LHWCA) to employees working on the OCS.