United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
TIMOTHY B. SPISAK
APACHE CORPORATION, ET AL.
PATRICK J. HANNA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
pending is defendant Stella Maris, LLC's motion for
summary judgment. (Rec. Doc. 93). The motion is opposed.
Considering the evidence, the law, and the arguments of the
parties, and for the reasons fully explained below, the
motion is denied.
following facts are undisputed. This case arises out of an
incident that allegedly occurred in May of 2015 aboard a
fixed SPAR oil and gas production platform known as
Devil's Tower, which is located on the outer continental
shelf off the coast of Louisiana. Devil's Tower has no
means of propulsion and is connected to the seabed by a
mooring system consisting of chains, cables, and piles or
caissons embedded into the ocean floor. Defendant Williams
Field Services, LLC is the owner of the platform and
defendant Eni U.S. Operating Co. Inc. was the operator at all
relevant times. Apache Corporation is the owner of a well
called Bass Lite that was tied into Devil's Tower by
pipeline. The well was in the process of undergoing plugging
and abandonment operations at the time of the plaintiff's
2005, Apache and Stella Maris, LLC entered into a Master
Service Contract, under which Apache hired Stella Maris to
perform certain work or render certain services as set forth
in separate job orders. Under Section 7 of the contract,
Stella Maris was designated as an independent contract not
subject to the control or direction of Apache. While Stella
Maris controlled the manner and methods by which it performed
its work under the contract, Apache was only interested in
the compliance of the work with the job order.
August 2012, Apache and Greene's Energy Group, LLC
entered into a Master Service Contract. Under Section 2,
Apache hired Greene's to perform certain work to support
Apache's “onshore and offshore exploration and
production business” as provided in subsequent job
orders. Section 8 of the contract specified that Greene's
“shall be, and perform at all times as, an independent
contractor.” Therefore, Greene's was not subject to
the control or direction of Apache as to the details of the
work performed by Greene's. Apache was only interested in
whether the work performed by Greene's complied with the
spring of 2015, Apache hired Greene's to flush out the
Bass Lite pipeline from the Devil's Tower platform to
prepare it to be plugged and abandoned. It was up to
Greene's to determine what personnel and equipment it
needed to do the job. Greene's was responsible for
rigging up and rigging down its equipment under the
supervision of a Greene's supervisor who directed the
Greene's crew. Greene's sent a crew of five men,
including Mr. Spisak, to Devil's Tower to perform the
flushing operation. Mr. Spisak was employed by Greene's
as a helper. The crew's supervisor was a Greene's
employee, Matthew Breaux. Mr. Spisak reported directly to Mr.
Breaux, and Mr. Breaux had ultimate supervisory control over
Mr. Spisak's work. Pursuant to its contract with Apache,
Stella Maris assigned Brian Ray to work as Apache's
“company man” with regard to the job being
performed by the Greene's crew.
Greene's crew arrived at Devil's Tower on May 6,
2015. Sometimes utilizing the cranes aboard the platform and
sometimes not, they rigged up their equipment and conducted
the flushing operation. During the process of flushing the
line with a methanol/water combination, the line hydrated,
creating an ice plug that prevented the flushing operation
from being completed. At that point, on May 18, the
Greene's crew had to rig down their equipment and prepare
to disembark the platform.
Spisak claims that he was injured during the rigging down
operation when he and another member of the Greene's crew
were carrying a ten-foot-long section of chicksan pipe. Mr.
Spisak claims he tripped and was then pushed by the other
Greene's employee on the opposite end of the pipe. Mr.
Spisak contends that the Greene's crew was denied access
to the cranes on the platform for the rigging down operation,
and therefore, he and other members of the Greene's crew
had to carry the chicksan pipe by hand.
evidence is undisputed that there were cranes aboard the
platform available for use by the Greene's crew. However,
other contractors aboard the platform were also utilizing the
cranes as simultaneous operations (“SIMOPS”) were
ongoing. Therefore, if a crane was in use by some other
contractor, the Greene's crew would have to simply wait
on its availability.
date of the alleged accident, Mr. Breaux was advised by Mr.
Ray that the crane was in use and that the Greene's crew
would not have access to it at that time. According to Mr.
Breaux, a decision was made by the Greene's crew not to
wait on the availability of a crane, and they continued with
the de-rigging process.
plaintiff's claim against Stella Maris centers on Mr.
Ray's participation in the decision not to use a crane to
lift chicksan pipe during the derigging operation.
The Summary ...