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Witty v. Sea Support Services, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 6, 2015

IBCEN WITTY
v.
SEA SUPPORT SERVICES, LLC, AND SEA SUPPORT VENTURES, LLC, SECTION

ORDER AND REASONS

IVAN L.R. LEMELLE, District Judge.

I. NATURE OF THE MOTION AND RELIEF SOUGHT

Before the Court is Defendants', Sea Support Services, LLC and Sea Support Ventures, LLC, Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.[1] Plaintiff has filed an opposition.[2] Defendants have filed a reply.[3] The motion, set for submission on March 11, 2015, is before the Court without oral argument. Accordingly, and for the reasons enumerated below,

IT IS ORDERED that the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. No. 8) is GRANTED and that Plaintiff's claim for punitive damages and attorney's fees associated with an alleged failure to pay maintenance and cure is DISMISSED.

II. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This action arises under 46 U.S.C. ยง 688, the Jones Act, and the General Maritime Laws.[4] On or about June 27, 2014, Plaintiff Ibcen Witty ("Witty") was employed as an Ordinary Seaman by Defendant Sea Support Services and/or Sea Support Ventures ("Sea Support") and was assigned to the M/V MISS GINGER ("vessel").[5]

On or about June 27, 2014, as Witty was attempting to descend a set of stairs aboard the vessel, as the vessel was underway in the Gulf of Mexico off the Coast of Louisiana, he slipped and fell falling down the length of the stairway.[6] As a result, Witty sustained injury to his body, including but not limited to, his left shoulder and low back.[7]

Witty contends the incident and resulting injuries were caused by the negligence of Sea Support, in failing to provide a safe place to work.[8] In addition to bringing a claim for negligence, Witty claims unseaworthiness and maintenance and cure, as well as a claim for attorneys' fees and punitive damages associated with the alleged failure to provide maintenance and cure.[9]

Sea Support moves the Court for partial summary judgment on the claim for attorneys' fees and punitive damages, contending that Defendants or their representatives have paid all medical expenses submitted to them, and have paid Witty either full wages or maintenance since the date of the alleged injury.[10]

III. LAW AND ANALYSIS

A. Summary Judgment Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate only if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986); TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James, 276 F.3d 754, 749 (5th Cir. 2002). The proponent of the motion bears the burden of showing a lack of evidence to support his opponent's case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Stauffer v. Gearhart, 741 F.3d 574, 582 (5th Cir. 2014).

A genuine dispute of material fact exists when the "evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Royal v. CCC & R. Tres Arboles, L.L.C., 736 F.3d 396, 400 (5th Cir. 2013). A party cannot "defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantial assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence.'" Celtic Marine Corp. v. ...


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