Argued: January 29, 2019
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Virginia, at Norfolk. Raymond A. Jackson,
District Judge. (2:18-cv-00020-RAJ-LRL)
NIEMEYER, KEENAN, and QUATTLEBAUM, Circuit Judges.
T. Gillelan, II, LONGSHORE CLAIMANTS' NATIONAL LAW
CENTER, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.
C. Bowen, WILLCOX & SAVAGE, P.C., Norfolk, Virginia, for
Richard N. Shapiro, SHAPIRO & APPLETON P.C., Virginia
Beach, Virginia, for Appellant.
Brianna L. Barnes, WILLCOX & SAVAGE, P.C., Norfolk,
Virginia, for Appellee.
NIEMEYER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Muhammad, a railroad employee, was injured while replacing
railroad crossties on a bridge spanning navigable waters.
When Muhammad filed a negligence claim against his employer
under the Federal Employers' Liability Act
("FELA"), the district court granted the
employer's motion to dismiss for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction. The court concluded that Muhammad was injured
"upon navigable waters" and was engaged in
"maritime employment" and therefore that the
Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act
("LHWCA") provided the exclusive remedy for his
claim. Because we conclude, however, that Muhammad's
injury did not occur "upon navigable waters," as
required by the LHWCA, we reverse and remand for further
2016, while Muhammad was employed by Norfolk Southern Railway
Company as a carpenter in its "bridge and building"
maintenance department, he performed maintenance work
replacing railroad crossties on Norfolk Southern's South
Branch Lift Bridge in Virginia. The Bridge crosses the
Elizabeth River, which has been declared navigable by the
U.S. Coast Guard, and the center span of the Bridge lifts
upward to allow vessels to navigate under it. The train
traffic crossing the Bridge primarily serves businesses to
the west of the Elizabeth River, often traveling to the
Portlock Railyard, which is landlocked and approximately a
mile east of the River.
work crew with whom Muhammad was working traveled to the
South Branch Lift Bridge via truck, and their work never
required the use of boats. While Muhammad was working on the
Bridge on May 19, a portion of the walkway on which he was
walking collapsed. He was able to avoid falling into the