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Mike Hooks Dredging Co., Inc. v. Eckstein Marine Service

September 27, 2010

MIKE HOOKS DREDGING CO., INC.
v.
ECKSTEIN MARINE SERVICE, INC. ET AL



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Helen G. Berrigan United States District Judge

CIVIL ACTION SECTION: "C" (1)

ORDER AND REASONS

Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment by third party defendant Longman's Marine Service, Inc. ("Longman's"). (Rec. Doc. 111). The motion is before the Court on the briefs without oral argument. Having reviewed the record, memoranda of counsel, and the law, the Court DENIES the motion for the following reasons.

I. Background

This dispute arises from a series of collisions that occurred on May 31, 2008. (Rec. Doc. 115 at 7). The following facts, taken from the briefing of Longman's and third party plaintiff Eckstein Marine Service, Inc., ("Eckstein")*fn1 provide the relevant background.

Mike Hooks Dredging ("Mike Hooks") entered into a contract with the United States Army Corps of Engineers to provide dredging services. (Rec. Doc. 111-2 at 2). The contract required Mike Hooks to provide a picket boat to assist passing boats. (Rec. Doc. 111-2 at 2).

Mike Hooks asked Longman's to locate such a picket boat. (Rec. Doc. 115 at 3). Longman's, in turn, referred the request to Rentrop Tugs, which, according to Longman's, then referred the request to United Tugs, which referred the request to Tommie Vizier Towing Company.

Tommie Vizier Towing ultimately supplied the picket boat, the M/V CAPTAIN TOMMIE JR. (Rec. Doc. 111-2 at 3).

The M/V CAPTAIN TOMMIE JR. is blamed by various parties, including Eckstein, for failing to assist vessels in passing the dredge, and therefore contributing to the collisions mentioned above. (Rec. Doc. 115 at 3).

Longman's brings the instant motion arguing that, given its limited role in securing the offending vessel, it should be dismissed from this litigation.

II. Law and Analysis

Summary judgment is only proper when the record indicates that there is not a "genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56. A genuine issue of fact exists only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc. 477 U.S. 242, 247-48 (1986); see also, Taita Chem. Co. v. Westlake Styrene Corp., 246 F.3d 377, 385 (5th Cir. 2001). When considering a motion for summary judgment, this Court "will review the facts drawing all inferences most favorable to the party opposing the motion." Reid v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 784 F.2d 577, 578 (5th Cir. 1986).

The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of "informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has met its initial burden, however, "the burden shifts to the non-moving party to produce evidence or designate specific facts showing the existence of a genuine issue for trial." Engstrom v. First Nat'l Bank of Eagle Lake, 47 F.3d 1459, 1462 (5th Cir. 1995). In order to satisfy its burden, the non-moving party must put forth competent evidence and cannot rely on "unsubstantiated assertions" and "conclusory allegations." See Hopper v. Frank, 16 F.3d 92 (5th Cir. 1994); Lujan v. Nat'l. Wildlife Fed'n., 497 U.S. 871, 871-73 (1990); Donaghey v. Ocean Drilling & Exploration Co., 974 F.2d 646, 649 (5th Cir. 1992).

Longman's argues that the three claims against it--negligence, breach of contract, and breach of warranty of workmanlike performance--can each be dismissed at summary judgment. (Rec. Doc. 111-2 at 4). It argues primarily that it had no contractual relationship or obligation to any other parties or ...


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