Federal Question 101.

Venable had a heart attack on a drilling barge; he and its owner agreed to settle for $350,000.  The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation initially indicated its agreement, but withdrew consent when it became evident that he would need a heart transplant.  Venable v. Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation, No. 12-30965 (Dec. 30, 2013).  Litigation ensued as to whether the LWCC could rely upon section 933 of LHWCA, which gives a carrier such as LWCC a veto right with substantial procedural safeguards.  The Fifth Circuit reversed summary judgment for Venable.  After a thorough and succinct review of the black-letter law on federal question jurisdiction, the Court found that section 933 gave the LWCC a defensive right that did not implicate Venable’s “well-pleaded complaint.”  It also found that the tentative nature of the LWCC’s alleged consent foreclosed ancillary jurisdiction over the claimed settlement under Kokonnen v. Guardian Life, 511 U.S. 375 (1994).

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