Aug 20, 2018

US Fifth Circuit Defines Maritime Contract Test

In recent months, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has been charting a new course for defining Gulf Coast maritime contracts. The circuit has devised a two-part test to determine whether federal maritime law governs a contract or if state and local laws apply. In Crescent Energy Services, LLC v. Carrizo Oil & Gas, Inc., the circuit applied the test to a contract to plug and abandon oil wells located in Louisiana’s inland waters. After an employee was injured during the project, Crescent and its insurers said Louisiana law applied, thus relieving them of indemnity obligations. But a Fifth Circuit panel found that Carrizo’s contract was maritime in nature, because it met the standards set out in the new test — namely, that the work was being conducted in navigable waters and that vessels were required to do the work. The ruling upheld a district court decision granting summary judgment to Carrizo, which was represented at the appellate and trial courts by Deutsch Kerrigan.