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Mays v. Chevron Pipe Line Co.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

January 10, 2017

PEGGY MAYS, ET AL.
v.
CHEVRON PIPE LINE CO., ET AL.

          WHITEHURST MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          REBECCA F. DOHERTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Currently pending before the Court is plaintiffs&#39');">9');">9');">9; motion for reconsideration [Doc. 89');">9');">9');">9] of this Court&#39');">9');">9');">9;s prior Ruling on summary judgment [Doc. 84]. Pursuant to the motion, plaintiffs move this Court to reconsider that portion of its prior Ruling whereby the Court dismissed plaintiffs&#39');">9');">9');">9; claims against Chevron Pipe Line Company ("Chevron Pipe Line"). Having considered the applicable law, evidence and arguments for and against reconsideration, the Court finds merit in plaintiffs&#39');">9');">9');">9; motion. Accordingly, for the reasons that follow, the motion for reconsideration is GRANTED, and the underlying motion for summary judgment [Doc. 29');">9');">9');">9] is DENIED to the extent it seeks dismissal of plaintiffs&#39');">9');">9');">9; claims against Chevron Pipe Line Company.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Peggy Mays (individually and as personal representative of the Estate of James Mays), Daphne Lanclos, Brent Mays and Jared Mays (collectively, "plaintiffs") brought this tort suit against Chevron Pipe Line Company and Chevron Midstream Pipelines, LLC ("Chevron Midstream") for damages arising out of a workplace accident that resulted in the death of James Mays. [Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1-1');">1');">1');">1] The following facts are not in dispute:

On January 30, 201');">1');">1');">14, Chevron Pipe Line and Furmanite America, Inc., Mays&#39');">9');">9');">9; employer, entered into a Master Services Contract, whereby Furmanite agreed to provide valve maintenance services for Chevron Pipe Line at its onshore and offshore facilities. [Doc. 29');">9');">9');">9-6, 1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1; Doc. 39');">9');">9');">9-3, 1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1] On September 9');">9');">9');">9, 201');">1');">1');">14, Mr. Mays was sent by Furmanite to the Lighthouse Point platform to perform valve maintenance services. [Id.] The platform was owned by Chevron Midstream and operated by Chevron Pipe Line. [Doc. 63-7, 1');">1');">1');">1');">p.1');">1');">1');">1; Doc. 67, p1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1-2; Doc. 70');">70, p.2] The platform was located 2.9');">9');">9');">9 miles off the coast of Louisiana, and thus, was in state territorial waters. [Doc. 29');">9');">9');">9-6, 1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1; Doc. 39');">9');">9');">9-3, 1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1] While Mr. Mays and others were attempting to manually close a valve, a gear operator broke. [Doc. 63-7, 1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1; Doc. 67-9');">9');">9');">9, p. 1');">1');">1');">1] Mr. Mays returned to the Lighthouse Point platform on September 1');">1');">1');">13, 201');">1');">1');">14 to remove the broken gear operator. [Doc. 29');">9');">9');">9-6, p. 2');">p. 2');">p. 2');">p. 2; Doc. 39');">9');">9');">9-3, 1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1; Doc. 63-7, p. 2');">p. 2');">p. 2');">p. 2; Doc. 67-9');">9');">9');">9, 1');">1');">1');">1');">p.1');">1');">1');">1] After removing the gear operator, the crew began removing the operator cap/bonnet cover plate from the valve. [Id.] While removing the last bolt, the pressure barrier was breached causing the operator cap/bonnet cover plate and valve stem to be expelled. [Doc. 63-7, p. 2');">p. 2');">p. 2');">p. 2; Doc. 67-9');">9');">9');">9, p. 2');">p. 2');">p. 2');">p. 2] Mr. Mays was struck in the head by thee objets and died as a result. [Doc. 1');">1');">1');">1-1');">1');">1');">1, p. 2');">p. 2');">p. 2');">p. 2]

         After suit was filed, Chevron Midstream and Chevron Pipe Line moved for summary judgment, arguing they were the "statutory employers" of Mr. Mays under the Louisiana Workers&#39');">9');">9');">9; Compensation Act ("LWCA"), and therefore they were entitled to tort immunity by virtue of the LWCA. The Court denied the motion with regard to Chevron Midstream, finding it had not submitted sufficient evidence showing it was Mr. Mays&#39');">9');">9');">9; statutory employer.[1');">1');">1');">1" name= "FN1');">1');">1');">1" id="FN1');">1');">1');">1">1');">1');">1');">1] [Doc. 84, pp. 7-9');">9');">9');">9] The Court granted the motion with regard to the claims brought against Chevron Pipeline. [Doc. 84, 1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">16] The decision turned upon whether Mr. Mays was covered by the LWCA (which would grant tort immunity to Chevron Pipe Line in its capacity as Mays&#39');">9');">9');">9; statutory employer), or by the Longshore Harbor and Workers&#39');">9');">9');">9; Compensation Act ("LHWCA"). In their opposition to defendants&#39');">9');">9');">9; motion, plaintiffs argued that although Mr. Mays was not a "person engaged in maritime employment" - a requirement for direct coverage under the LHWCA - Mays nevertheless was entitled to LHWCA benefits by virtue of section 1');">1');">1');">1333(b) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act ("OCSLA"), which extends LHWCA coverage to injuries "occurring as the result of operations conducted on the outer Continental Shelf for the purpose of extracting and transporting natural resources from the shelf. 43 U.S.C. § 1');">1');">1');">1333(b). Ultimately, the Court determined Mays&#39');">9');">9');">9; fatal injury was not covered under § 1');">1');">1');">1333(b), finding plaintiffs had "not established a substantial nexus between Mr. Mays&#39');">9');">9');">9; death and ChevronPipe Line&#39');">9');">9');">9;s extractive operations on the outer Continental Shelf." [Doc. 84, 1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">13; see also id. at 1');">1');">1');">15] Accordingly, the Court held Mays was covered under the state workers&#39');">9');">9');">9; compensation act, and under that body of law, Chevron Pipe Line was deemed Mays&#39');">9');">9');">9; statutory employer and was thus immune from tort liability. [Id.]

         Plaintiffs have now moved for reconsideration of the foregoing Ruling, arguing summary judgment is not warranted, as plaintiffs submitted sufficient evidence in support of their argument that "there was a substantial nexus between defendant Chevron Pipe Line Company&#39');">9');">9');">9;s OCS operations and decedent&#39');">9');">9');">9;s injury and death." [Doc. 89');">9');">9');">9-1');">1');">1');">1, 1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">1');">p. 1');">1');">1');">1] For the reasons that follow, the Court agrees and finds a genuine issue of material fact exists with regard to this issue.

         II. Standards of Review

         A. Reconsideration

         Where a motion for reconsideration of a prior judgment on the merits is filed within 28 days of rendition of the judgment, the applicable procedural rule is Fed.R.Civ.P. 59');">9');">9');">9(o). Dudenhefer v. Davol, Inc., 3');">52F.3d 1');">1');">1');">1068, *2 (5th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">19');">9');">9');">99');">9');">9');">95).

A Rule 59');">9');">9');">9(e) motion calls into question the correctness of judgment. This Court has held that such a motion is not the proper vehicle for rehashing evidence, legal theories, or arguments that could have been offered or raised before the entry of judgment. Rather, Rule 59');">9');">9');">9(e) serves the narrow purpose of allowing a party to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence. Reconsideration of a judgment after its entry is an extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly.

Templet v. HydroChem Inc., 367 F.3d 473, 478-79');">9');">9');">9 (5th Cir. 2004)(internal alterations, quotation marks and citations omitted; emphasis added).

         While a district court has considerable discretion in deciding whether to reopen a case in response to a motion for reconsideration arising under Rule 59');">9');">9');">9(e), such discretion is not limitless. Templet at 479');">9');">9');">9 (citing Lavespere v. Niagara Mack & Tool Works, Inc.,9');">9');">9');">91');">1');">1');">10 F.2d 1');">1');">1');">167');">9');">9');">9');">91');">1');">1');">10 F.2d 1');">1');">1');">167, 1');">1');">1');">174 (5th Cir. 1');">1');">1');">19');">9');">9');">99');">9');">9');">90). The Fifth Circuit has identified two judicial imperatives relating to such a motion: "1');">1');">1');">1) the need to bring ...


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