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Tran v. Abdon Callais Offshore LLC

United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana

March 30, 2015

THUAN VO TRAN, ET AL.
v.
ABDON CALLAIS OFFSHORE, LLC, ET AL.

SECTION: "A" (4)

ORDER & REASONS

JAY C. ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

Before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment as to the claims against Charles Michael Callais and Corey Callais (Rec. Doc. 80) filed by defendants Charles Michael Callais and Corey Callais ("Member Defendants"). Plaintiffs oppose this motion. The motion, set for submission on March 25, 2015, is before the Court on the briefs without oral argument.

I. Background

Plaintiffs Thuan Vo Tran, individually and on behalf of Tran & Peter LLC, Trinh Van Tran, Hue Nguyen, Phuc Vo, Lanh Tran, and Ha Nguyen brought this action alleging injuries from a two-vessel collision that occurred on March 1, 2012. (Rec. Doc. 2; Comp., at ¶7). Plaintiffs, on board the F/V Star Ocean, allege that they were carefully proceeding through foggy conditions after entering the Gulf of Mexico when the M/V St. Joseph the Worker, "suddenly and without warning, " struck the port side of the F/V Star Ocean, causing the vessel to split and sink. Id.

Plaintiffs claim that Captain Jack P. Sears, Jr. piloted the M/V St. Joseph the Worker in a reckless manner and failed to take a number of ordinary precautions. They further claim that Abdon Callais Offshore, LLC ("ACO, " employer of Captain Sears) and the Member Defendants (managing members of ACO) negligently failed to train, supervise, screen, and evaluate their employees; negligently failed to adopt proper policies for their employees; and negligently entrusted the vessel to Captain Sears. They also allege unseaworthiness and bring the action in rem against the vessel. Plaintiffs seek damages for several injuries, including lost wages, mental anguish, disability, physical pain, medical expenses, property damages, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Plaintiffs filed their complaint on April 19, 2012. The jury trial is scheduled to commence on April 20, 2015. The pretrial conference was held on March 26, 2015.

II. Standard of Review

Summary judgment is appropriate only if, "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, " when viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, "show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact." TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James, 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 447 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)). A dispute about a material fact is "genuine" if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). Once the moving party has initially shown "that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's cause, " the nonmovant must come forward with "specific facts" showing a genuine factual issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P 56(e); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). Conclusory allegations and denials, speculation, improbable inferences, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic argumentation do not adequately substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. Id. (citing SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d 1093, 1097 (1993)).

III. Discussion

Defendants argue in the present motion that the only allegations against the Member Defendants are ones for negligence in actions taken in their role as managing members of the LLC (or "inside the structure of the LLC"). Pointing to the Louisiana statutory protection of members and managers of LLCs for liabilities of an LLC, and caselaw from the Louisiana Supreme Court interpreting the applicable statute, they contend that there is no cognizable claim against the Member Defendants under the current alleged facts.

Plaintiffs respond that the Member Defendants "had a personal duty to [P]laintiffs to make certain that qualified . .. captains were at the helm . .., [and, ] [a]t the very least material issues of fact remain as to whether Charles and Corey Callais breached their personal responsibility in hiring, training, and managing qualified personnel." (Rec. Doc. 88-1; Pls. Opp., at 13).

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 12:1320 reads in pertinent part as follows:

ยง 1320. Liability to third parties of members and managers A. The liability of members [and] managers . . . of a limited liability company organized and existing under this Chapter shall at all times be determined ...

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