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Pellegrin v. Montco Oilfield Contractors, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

June 11, 2015

BRANDON PELLEGRIN,
v.
MONTCO OILFIELD CONTRACTORS, LLC, SECTION:

OPINION AND ORDER

MARY ANN VIAL LEMMON, District Judge.

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Montco Offshore, Inc. and Montco Oilfield Contractors, LLC's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Seaman's Status (Doc. #33) is DENIED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Montco Oilfield Contractors, LLC's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment regarding plaintiff's claim for attorneys' fees and punitive damages associated with the alleged arbitrary and capricious failure to provide maintenance and cure (Doc. #45) is DENIED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the United States Magistrate Judge's April 29, 2015, Order granting plaintiff's motion seeking the identities of the defendants' excess insurance carriers up to $50 million of coverage (Doc. #48) is AFFIRMED. Defendants must identify their excess insurers in accordance with that Order by June 22, 2015.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's Second Motion to Extend Deadline to Amend Pleadings and Third-Party Actions, Cross-Claims and Counterclaims (Doc. #37) is GRANTED, and such pleadings must be filed by June 29, 2015.

BACKGROUND

This matter is before the court on a motion for partial summary judgment regarding seaman status filed by defendants, Montco Oilfield Contractors, LLC ("MOC") and Montco Offshore, Inc ("Montco Offshore"). MOC filed a motion for partial summary judgment regarding plaintiff's claim for attorneys' fees and punitive damages related to his maintenance and cure claim. Also before the court is defendants' appeal of the United States Magistrate Judge's Order requiring them to identify their excess insurers up to the $50, 000, 000 level. Plaintiff, Brandon Pellegrin, filed a motion to extend the deadline to file amended complaints in order for him to add those insurers as defendants once they are identified.

In 2013, Pellegrin was employed by MOC as an offshore welder engaged in the deconstruction of decommissioned offshore platforms. While performing this work, Pellegrin and the other MOC employees were stationed aboard the L/B ROBERT, a lift vessel owned and operated by Montco Offshore that was jacked down beside the platform being decommissioned. The MOC employees rode on the L/B ROBERT from one job site to another, but once the vessel was stationed at a jobsite, the MOC employees went to and from the vessel via crewboat for their hitches. The MOC employees ate and slept aboard the L/B ROBERT. Daily production and safety meetings were held aboard the L/B ROBERT in the PAC-1 Level television room. Thereafter, the MOC welders would go to their field office, a shipping container on the L/B ROBERT's deck, to sign job safety analyses.

The welders worked on the platform being decomissioned, a materials barge and the L/B ROBERT. On the platform, the welders would cut material to be taken away and install lifting eyes on that material. Once the scrap metal was lifted to the material barge by the L/B ROBERT's cranes, the MOC welders would weld it in place for transport. On the L/B ROBERT the MOC welders did preprepartory work related to the work on the platform or material barge.

Pellegrin began a two-week hitch on October 14, 2013. On October 16 and 17, 2013, he informed his supervisor, Jonathan Granier, that he was feeling ill with nausea and a headache. Granier excused Pellegrin from work and sent him to a private bunk room. Granier informed the L/B ROBERT's captain and medic, and defendants' headquarters about Pellegrin's condition. On October 19, 2013, Pellegrin was sent ashore on a crewboat with another worker who was claiming to be ill. Pellegrin's co-worker drove Pellegrin to defendants' headquarters, where Pellegrin's fiancee, picked him up and brought him home. After Pellegrin was home for two days, his fiancee brought him to the emergency room at Terrebone General Hospital. Pellegrin was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis and transported to Touro Infirmary in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he remained for two weeks.

On December 13, 2013, Pellegrin's physician released him to full duty and Pellegrin returned to work for MOC. In September 2014, Pellegrin was fired for allegedly tampering with a computer Internet router located in the ceiling of one of the L/B ROBERT's television rooms.

On September 19, 2014, Pellegrin filed this action against Montco Offshore alleging that he was a seaman and crew member of the L/B ROBERT when he contracted pneumococcal meningitis. He alleged that he sustained brain damage and other injuries because Montco Offshore failed to provide immediate medical care, and that Montco Offshore is liable under the Jones Act and the general maritime law of unseaworthiness. Pellegrin also alleged that he "may be entitled to maintenance and cure."

Pellegrin has filed several amended complaints. The first amended complaint added MOC as a defendant. In the second amended complaint, Pellegrin alleged an alterative claim under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act against Montco Offshore, and a claim for punitive damages for MOC's "willful and wanton failure to pay maintenance and cure." The third amended complaint added defendants' primary insurance carrier, Houston Casualty Company, as a defendant, and increased Pellegrin's damages demand from $2, 000, 000 to $5, 000, 000. The fourth amended complaint added defendants' excess insurance carrier, Certain Underwriters at Lloyds of London; the company that provided the emergency medical technician aboard the L/B ROBERT, Phoenix Offshore Solutions; and, Phoenix's insurance carrier, Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company, as defendants. Also, in the fourth amended complaint, Pellegin alleged that Montco "willfully and wantonly failed to provide cure to [him] when he became seriously ill aboard the L/B ROBERT, " and seeks punitive damages for Montco's "willful and wanton failure to provide cure."

ANALYSIS

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the "court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Granting a motion for summary judgment is proper if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file, and affidavits filed in support of the motion demonstrate that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2509-10 (1986). The court must find "[a] factual dispute... [to be] 'genuine' if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party... [and a] fact... [to be] material' if it might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing substantive law." Beck v. Somerset Techs., Inc., 882 F.2d 993, 996 (5th Cir. 1989) (citing Anderson, 106 S.Ct. at 2510).

If the moving party meets the initial burden of establishing that there is no genuine issue, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to produce evidence of the existence of a genuine issue for trial. Celeotex Corp. v. Catrett, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552 (1986). The non-movant cannot satisfy the summary judgment burden with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence. Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (en banc). If the opposing party bears the burden of proof at trial, the moving party does not have to submit evidentiary documents to properly support its motion, but need only ...


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