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Plata v. Triton Diving Services LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

April 10, 2015

HECTOR PLATA,
v.
TRITON DIVING SERVICES LLC, ET AL., SECTION

ORDER AND REASONS

HELEN G. BERRIGAN, District Judge.

Before the Court is defendant, CRC Insurance Services, Inc.'s ("CRC") Motion for Summary Judgment. Rec. Doc. 93. Plaintiff, Shore Construction, LLC ("Shore") opposes CRC's motion. Rec. Doc. 112. The motion is before the Court on the briefs and without oral argument. Having considered the memoranda of counsel, the record, facts, and applicable law, the Court GRANTS CRC's Motion for Summary Judgment for the following reasons.

I. Factual background

This diversity action arises out of the alleged breach of business relationship and/or contract between the plaintiff, Shore, and the defendants, Risk Management Underwriters, Inc. ("Risk Management"), Midwest Insurance Agency, LLC ("Midwest") and CRC.

Shore is a business that supplies labor to customers for the performance of work within the marine industry. Rec. Doc. 105-4 at 2. On June 15, 2009, Shore and Conrad Industries ("Conrad") entered into a Master Service Agreement ("MSA"). Per the MSA, Shore was to provide its employees to Conrad to work for Conrad and its customers at Conrad's shipyard and to indemnify Conrad against liability from accidents resulting from such work. Rec. Doc. 1-1 at 4; Rec. Doc. 93-2 at 4. Shore alleges that in May 2010, two years after it began its business of supplying labor in the marine industry, it contracted with Risk Management to procure insurance on its behalf that would fully indemnify it for its business activities. Rec. Doc. 105-4 at 2. Risk Management then enlisted Midwest and CRC to assist it in procuring insurance for Shore. Id. Shore alleges that it dealt directly with Risk Management and Midwest, and that Risk Management then enlisted Midwest and CRC to assist it in procuring insurance for Shore. Id. Shore states that it provided Risk Management and Midwest with the MSA between Shore and Conrad to ensure that the insurance policy would cover its business risks. Rec. Doc. 1-1 at 3. Shore also claims that it supplied Risk Management and Midwest with the following description of its work:

[Shore] supplies our employees to our clients to perform specific job tasks within the oil and marine industry. These tasks include welding, fitting, rigging, helpers, and burners to work on platforms, jackets, skids, modules, ships, tugs, boats, barges, etc...

Rec. Doc. 1-1 at 4. Defendants ultimately procured a Colony Insurance Company Commercial Policy with policy number AR5360905 with effective dates of June 1, 2010 to June 1, 2011 for Shore. Rec. Doc. 93-3. The policy included several dozen forms, including a Maritime Operations Exclusion and Watercraft Amendment. Rec. Doc. 93-3 at 11.[1]

Subsequently, Shore's employee, Hector Plata, was injured on or about September 20, 2010, while working at Conrad's Shipyard. Rec. Doc. 134 at 3. Colony denied Shore coverage for Plata's injuries on December 20, 2012. Rec. Doc. 93-7. As a result, Shore states that it was required to defend Conrad and Triton Diving Services, LLC at its own cost in Mr. Plata's lawsuit against them, and also pay the costs of a private settlement. Rec. Doc. 1-1 at 4-5. Shore also claims that since then, a second employee, Francisco Villareal, has filed suit for injuries sustained while working for Conrad, and Shore expects that Colony will likewise deny coverage, requiring Shore to shoulder further costs. Rec. Doc. 1-1 at 5.

On December 6, 2013, Shore filed this action in state court alleging 1) professional negligence and breach of fiduciary duties and 2) negligent misrepresentation, and seeking reimbursement for all damages in the Plata and Villareal civil actions as well as all expenses incurred in defending those actions and prosecuting this action. Rec. Doc. 105-4 at 2-3. The action was subsequently removed to this Court. Rec. Doc. 1. On November 25, 2014, CRC filed this motion.

II. Standard of review

Summary judgment is 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 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, 248 (1996).

A party seeking summary judgment "bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of [discovery], together with the affidavits, if any, ' 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 initial burden is met, the nonmoving party must "designate specific facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial" using evidence cognizable under Rule 56. Id. at 324. "[U]nsubstantiated assertions" and "conclusory allegations" will not defeat a properly supported motion for summary judgment. Hopper v. Frank, 16 F.3d 92, 97 (5th Cir. 1994); Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 871-73 (1990). "If the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative, " summary judgment is appropriate. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50 (internal citations omitted). "Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Id. at 248.

When reviewing a motion for summary judgment, a court must view the evidence and inferences drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Daniels v. City of Arlington, Texas, 246 F.3d 500, 502 (5th Cir. 2001). Summary judgment does not allow a court to resolve credibility issues or weigh ...


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