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Parker Drilling Mgmt. Servs. v. Newton

Supreme Court of the United States

April 16, 2019, Argued; June 10, 2019, Decided

No. 18-389.


 [*1886]  Justice Thomas delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), 67 Stat. 462, 43 U. S. C. §1331 et seq., extends federal law to the subsoil and seabed of the Outer Continental Shelf and all attachments thereon (OCS). Under the OCSLA, all law on the OCS is federal law, administered by federal officials. The OCSLA denies States any interest in or jurisdiction over the OCS, and it deems the adjacent State’s laws to be federal law “[t]o the extent that they are applicable and not inconsistent with” other federal law. §1333(a)(2)(A). The question before us is how to determine which state laws meet this requirement and therefore should be adopted as federal law. Applying familiar tools of statutory interpretation, [***7]  we hold that where federal law addresses the relevant issue, state law is not adopted as surrogate federal law on the OCS.

Respondent Brian Newton worked for petitioner Parker Drilling Management Services on drilling platforms off the coast of California. Newton’s 14-day shifts involved 12 hours per day on duty and 12 hours per day on standby, during which he could not leave the platform. He was paid well above the California and federal minimum wages for his time on duty, but he was not paid for his standby time.

Newton filed a class action in California state court alleging violations of several California wage-and-hour laws and related state-law claims. Among other things, Newton claimed that California’s minimum-wage and overtime laws required Parker to compensate him for the time he spent on standby. Parker removed the action to Federal District Court. The parties agreed that Parker’s platforms were subject to the OCSLA. Their disagreement centered on whether the relevant California laws were “applicable and not inconsistent” with existing federal law and thus deemed to be the applicable federal law under the OCSLA. §1333(a)(2)(A).

The District Court applied Fifth Circuit precedent providing that under [***8]  the OCSLA, “state law only applies to the extent it is necessary ‘to fill a significant void or gap’ in federal law.” App. to Pet. for Cert. 51 (quoting Continental Oil Co. v. London Steam-Ship Owners’ Mut. Ins. Assn., 417 F. 2d 1030, 1036 (1969)). It determined that the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA), 52 Stat. 1060, 29 U. S. C. §201 et seq., constitutes a comprehensive federal wage-and-hour scheme and thus left no significant gap for state law to fill. Because all of Newton’s claims relied on state law, the court granted Parker judgment on the pleadings.

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139 S. Ct. 1881 *; 204 L. Ed. 2d 165 **; 2019 U.S. LEXIS 4029 ***; 169 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P36,713; 2019 AMC 1548; 27 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 889; 2019 WL 2412907


Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.


Newton v. Parker Drilling Mgmt. Servs., 888 F.3d 1085, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 10761 (9th Cir., Apr. 27, 2018)Newton v. Parker Drilling Mgmt. Servs., 881 F.3d 1078, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2844 (9th Cir. Cal., Feb. 5, 2018)

Disposition: 881 F. 3d 1078 and 888 F. 3d 1085, vacated and remanded.


gap, enclave, fill, adjacent, shelf, wage-and-hour, Continental, outer

Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Admiralty & Maritime Law, Maritime Workers' Claims, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Business & Corporate Compliance, Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Workers' Compensation & SSDI, Federal Government, Property