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Vanterpool v. Hess Oil V.I. Corp.

decided: June 28, 1985.

GEORGE N. VANTERPOOL, MARJORIE VANTERPOOL, HIS WIFE
v.
HESS OIL V.I. CORP., APPELLANT



On Appeal from the District Court of the Virgin Islands (St. Croix) D.C. Civil No. 84-0341.

Garth and Becker, Circuit Judges and Rosenn, Senior Circuit Judge.

Author: Garth

GARTH, Circuit Judge.

This appeal comes to us as a certified question pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1292(b). We are asked to decide two questions: 1) whether the borrowed employee doctrine applies in the Virgin Islands so that workers' compensation may supply the exclusive remedy for injuries sustained by an employee loaned to the borrowing employer and engaged in the performance of a borrowing employer's work;*fn1 and 2) whether, to establish workers' compensation as an injured employee's exclusive remedy against a borrowing employer, the borrowed employee must be shown to have knowingly waived his common law right to maintain a tort action for personal injury against the borrowing employer.

We hold that the "borrowed employee doctrine" applies in the Virgin Islands and that no express waiver of an employee's common law rights as against the borrowing employer need be demonstrated.

I.

Litwin Panamerican Corporation ("Litwin") and Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corporation ("HOVIC") entered into an agreement whereby Litwin was to provide personnel to perform general maintenance and turnaround work at HOVIC's St. Croix refinery.*fn2 Litwin workers were divided into two labor classifications: Type-I personnel, over whom HOVIC assumed direct control and supervision, and Type II personnel, over whom Litwin retained direct control and supervision. This appeal concerns only Type I personnel.

The Litwin-HOVIC agreement expressly provided that "Type I work is defined as that performed by CONTRACTOR'S (Litwin's) craftsmen, foremen and supervisors . . . where such employees have been loaned to HOVIC and are under HOVIC's direct supervision, direction and control, and CONTRACTOR has no general or turnaround superintendent assigned to the work." App. at 23. The agreement further provided that maintenance and turnaround workers would be furnished in the numbers and according to the skills requested by HOVIC. See app. at 24-25. Even if Litwin were asked on occasion to supply a turnaround supervisor or coordinator, HOVIC would thereafter assume direction and control of all personnel. See app. at 25.

Thus, although the term of a given employee's assignment to HOVIC was not fixed, any assigned Type-I employee would necessarily work under the direct supervision and control of HOVIC. Borrowed employees, such as Vanterpool, who was borrowed by HOVIC from Litwin, remained on the Litwin payroll and Litwin made insurance premium payments to the statutory workers' compensation fund. See app. at 31. HOVIC, in turn, reimbursed Litwin for all payroll expenses incurred for borrowed employees, including workers' compensation premiums. See app. at 104 (affidavit of Edward L. Weinman, Controller of HOVIC). This reimbursement was made by including the cost of procuring workers' compensation insurance as a factor in the scheduled time and materials rate paid to Litwin for borrowed employees. Id.

George Vanterpool was first hired by Litwin to work as a Hess turnaround loanee (borrowed employee) in July 1976. Thereafter, he was rehired on nine separate occasions. Prior to each assignment, Vanterpool signed a "Rehire Form" prepared by Litwin. The rehire form stated in pertinent part:

This is to inform you of the conditions under which you will be working while a "Hess Turnaround Loanee".

You should be aware that while working as a Loanee:

1. HOVIC personnel will control, direct and supervise all aspects of your work.

2. At no time should you receive, or act under instructions from Litwin Supervision.

3. HOVIC will provide you with safety equipment and will ensure that all safety conditions surrounding your work are met.

Vanterpool both signed the rehire form in its entirety and initialed the specific provision relating to the ...


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