United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
SIGNAL MUTUAL INDEMNITY ASSOCIATION, LTD., ET AL.
ASBESTOS CORPORATION, LTD., ETAL.
RULING AND ORDER
A. JACKSON, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE
DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
the Court is the Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter
Jurisdiction Pursuant to F.R.C.P. Rule 12(b)(1) and Failure
to State a Claim Pursuant to F.R.C.P. Rule 12(b)(6) (Doc. 14)
filed by Defendant Port of Greater Baton Rouge Port
Association, also known as Greater Baton Rouge Port
Commission. Plaintiffs Signal Mutual Indemnity Association,
Ltd., and Baton Rouge Marine Contractors, Inc., filed a
memorandum in opposition to the Motion. (See Doc.
20). For the reasons explained herein, the Court finds that
it does not have subject-matter jurisdiction over this
action, and therefore Defendant's Motion is GRANTED.
working as a longshoreman, truck loader, and warehouse worker
from 1963 to 1999, Louis Genusa, Jr. ("Genusa"),
was exposed to asbestos. (Doc. 1 at ¶ 4). See Genusa
u. Asbestos Corp., 18 F.Supp.3d 773, 776 (M.D. La.
2014). Genusa allegedly was exposed to asbestos throughout
his career while working for various shipment and
transportation companies at the Port of Baton Rouge in Port
Allen, Louisiana. (Id.). Genusa's last injurious
exposure to asbestos allegedly occurred while he was working
for Baton Rouge Marine Contractors, Inc. ("BRMC").
(Id. at ¶ 15).
contracted malignant mesothelioma and passed away on
September 18, 2014. (Id. at ¶ 12). On November
11, 2014, Genusa's wife filed a claim for death benefits
under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act
("LHWCA"), 33 U.S.C. § 901 et seq.,
against BRMC. (Id. at ¶ 5). As a result, BRMC
and its insurer, Signal Mutual Indemnity Association, Ltd.
("Signal") (collectively, "Plaintiffs"),
paid benefits under the LHWCA to Genusa's wife.
filed this action on September 18, 2015, against thirteen
defendants that allegedly "designed, tested, evaluated,
manufactured, packaged, furnished, stored, handled,
transported, installed, supplied and/or sold [the]
asbestos-containing products" that were the proximate
cause of Genusa's injuries. (Id. at ¶ 7).
Plaintiffs instituted this action to recover the benefits
they paid to Genusa's wife under the LHWCA. (Id.
at ¶ 35). Plaintiffs state causes of action for
negligence, strict liability, breach of express or implied
warranty, and unjust enrichment. Through the course of these
proceedings, Plaintiffs moved to voluntarily dismiss twelve
of the thirteen defendants. (See Docs. 6, 23). The only
remaining defendant is Port of Greater Baton Rouge Port
Association, also known as Greater Baton Rouge Port
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), a claim is
'"properly dismissed for lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction when the court lacks the statutory or
constitutional power to adjudicate' the claim."
In re FEMA Trailer Formaldehyde Prods. Liab. Litig.,
668 F.3d 281, 286 (5th Cir. 2012) (quoting Home Builders
Ass'n v. City of Madison, 143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th
Cir. 1998)). In order to "preventQ a court without
jurisdiction from prematurely dismissing a case with
prejudice, " a court should consider a Rule 12(b)(1)
motion for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction before
addressing any motions that concern the merits of a case.
Id. at 286-87 (citing Ramming v. United
States, 281 F.3d 158, 161 (5th Cir. 2001)).
motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) is analyzed under the
same standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).
Benton v. United States, 960 F.2d 19, 21 (5th Cir.
1992). That standard seeks to determine whether "a
complaint... contain[s] sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, to 'state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "[F]acial plausibility"
exists "when the plaintiff pleads factual content that
allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged."
Id. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at
courts have original jurisdiction over any "civil case
of admiralty or maritime jurisdiction, saving to suitors in
all cases all other remedies to which they are otherwise
entitled." 28 U.S.C. § 1331(1). For admiralty
jurisdiction to attach, a plaintiff "must satisfy
conditions both of location and of connection with maritime
activity." Jerome B. Grubart, Inc. v. Great Lakes
Dredge & Dock Co., 513 U.S. 527, 534 (1995). The
"locality" test "assesses 'whether the
tort occurred on navigable water or whether injury suffered
on land was caused by a vessel on navigable water.'"
Venable v. La. Workers' Comp. Corp., 740 F.3d
937, 944 (5th Cir. 2013) (citing Grubart, 513 U.S.
at 534). The "connection" test requires the Court
(1) to "assess the general features of the type of
incident involved to determine whether the incident has a
potentially disruptive impact on maritime commerce" and
(2) to "determine whether the general character of the
activity giving rise to the incident shows a substantial
relationship to traditional maritime activity."
Grubart, 513 U.S. at 534 (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted).
review of the Complaint reveals that Plaintiffs filed this
action in federal court with the intent of invoking the
Court's admiralty jurisdiction. Paragraph four of the
Complaint states that "jurisdiction is within the
jurisdiction of the Court" and that Genusa was
"exposed to asbestos aboard vessels on navigable waters
while engaged in the traditional maritime activity of loading
and unloading vessels." (Doc. 1 at ¶ 4).
Nevertheless, the Court finds that it lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction over this matter.
Genusa v. Asbestos Corp., this Court addressed
whether the same underlying facts of Genusa's claims for
asbestos exposure satisfied the locality and connection
tests. See 18 F.Supp.3d 773. This Court found that
Genusa's claims met the locality test, in part, because
"he did his stevedoring work both on floating vessels on
the Mississippi River, a navigable waterway, and on
land." Id. at 784. When this Court applied the
connection test, however, it found that Genusa was a
primarily land-based worker and that "the prospect of
injuries to a predominantly land-based worker is less likely
to disrupt maritime commerce because such workers are not
necessary for ships to operate on the navigable waters."
Id. at 785-86 (internal quotation marks omitted)
(quoting Conner v. Alfa Laval, Inc., 799 F.Supp.2d
455, 466 (E.D. Pa. 2011)). As a result, this Court found that
it did not have original admiralty jurisdiction over
urge the Court to not follow its prior decision, arguing that
the decision was in error due to its reliance on Conner
v. Alfa Laval, Inc.,799 F.Supp.2d 455. (See Doc. 20 at
p. 13). The district court in Conner
addressed the issue of admiralty jurisdiction in a
consolidated action involving four plaintiffs who alleged
that they had suffered asbestos-related injuries as a result
of their exposure to asbestos-containing products during
their service in the United States Navy. See 799
F.Supp.2d at 458. Three of the plaintiffs were exposed to
asbestos while they were assigned to work aboard various
vessels, but the fourth plaintiff was exposed to asbestos
while employed as a shipyard worker, performing land-based
repairs, overhauls, and reinstallations on Navy ships.
Id. at 459-GO. The ...