from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Louisiana
REAVLEY, ELROD, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges.
JENNIFER WALKER ELROD, Circuit Judge
Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West and some of its
commercial crawfishermen members sued a number of oil and gas
companies and their insurers, claiming the companies'
dredging activities caused damage to the fisheries the
fishermen used. The district court granted summary judgment
in favor of two of the companies, Florida Gas Transmission
Co. and Southern Natural Gas Co., finding that Plaintiffs did
not create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the
two companies' activities constituted
"dredging" so as to support maritime tort claims.
Plaintiffs moved the district court to reconsider its grant
of summary judgment and submitted new evidence for its
review. The district court denied Plaintiffs' motion for
reconsideration as to both companies. Plaintiffs appeal both
the district court's order granting summary judgment as
well as the denial of their motion for reconsideration. We
AFFIRM the district court's grant of summary judgment and
denial of the motion for reconsideration with respect to
Florida Gas Transmission Co. With respect to Southern Natural
Gas Co., we REVERSE the district court's denial of
Plaintiffs' Rule 59(e) motion and VACATE its grant of
are the Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association-West and
over eighty individual crawfishermen who operate in the
Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana (collectively,
Plaintiffs). They sued several companies,
two of which are relevant to this appeal-Florida Gas
Transmission Co. (Florida Gas) and Southern Natural Gas Co.
(Southern Natural). Plaintiffs alleged that the
companies' past canal dredging activities created spoil
banks that damaged the Atchafalaya Basin fisheries Plaintiffs
this case was removed from state court to the United States
District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, various
defendant companies filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that
Plaintiffs failed to state a cause of action for maritime
tort. The district court held that Plaintiffs had stated a
maritime tort claim against Florida Gas, Southern Natural,
and Dow Chemical Co. (Dow) by alleging that these defendants engaged
in dredging activities. The district court dismissed
Plaintiffs' claims against all other defendant companies
because Plaintiffs failed to allege these companies had
engaged in dredging activities. Plaintiffs appealed the
dismissal of these defendants, but we affirmed. In re
Louisiana Crawfish Producers, 772 F.3d 1026 (5th Cir.
2014). Our decision left Florida Gas, Southern Natural, and
Dow, along with their insurers, as the remaining defendants.
our decision in Louisiana Crawfish, the remaining
defendants and Plaintiffs conferred and prepared a case
management order to establish litigation deadlines. At the
time the parties created the case management order, Southern
Natural's Rule 30(b)(6) deposition had not yet occurred.
The parties agreed upon a proposed case management order,
which stated, in pertinent part:
3. Dispositive Motions:
a. Any party having dispositive motion(s) concerning legal
issues and not requiring additional fact discovery shall file
their motion(s) by July 31, 2015.
b. Oppositions to dispositive motions filed on or before July
31, 2015 shall be filed by August 31, 2015.
c. Any reply briefs shall be filed by September 15, 2015.
d. Within thirty (30) days from receipt of the transcript of
the Southern Natural Gas Company deposition in this matter,
Plaintiffs shall file any dipositive motions or supplemental
oppositions necessitated by factual information learned
during the deposition.
Natural advised Plaintiffs that its earliest available
deposition date was September 22, 2015. This date fell after
the case management order's August 31 deadline for
Plaintiffs to oppose dispositive motions. Plaintiffs
nevertheless agreed to hold Southern Natural's deposition
on September 22, 2015, anticipating they would be allowed to
supplement their opposition to any dispositive motions with
information learned at the deposition.
31, 2015, in accordance with the case management order,
Florida Gas, Southern Natural, and Dow filed a joint motion
seeking reconsideration of the district court's earlier
denial of their motion to dismiss or, alternatively, seeking
summary judgment and dismissal of Plaintiffs' claims.
Plaintiffs timely submitted their opposition to the motion in
accordance with the deadlines set forth in the case
management order. Plaintiffs attached to their opposition
evidence pertaining to Florida Gas and Dow, but they did not
attach any evidence pertaining to Southern
the motion was pending before the district court, Southern
Natural's corporate representative was deposed on
September 22, 2015. During the deposition, Southern
Natural's corporate representative testified that
Southern Natural engaged in dredging in connection with the
subject spoil banks. At the end of the
deposition, Southern Natural's corporate representative
reserved his right to read and sign the deposition
transcript. At Plaintiffs' request, the court reporter
provided an uncertified copy of the transcript to Plaintiffs
on October 26, 2016. However, because Southern Natural's
corporate representative had not yet signed the transcript,
an official transcript was not yet available. After the
deposition took place, Plaintiffs also forwarded requests for
admissions to all defendants, ahead of the agreed-upon
discovery cutoff date. In its response, Southern Natural
admitted to using dredge vessels in the construction of the
canal at issue.
November 12, 2015, while Plaintiffs were still awaiting the
official deposition transcript, the district court granted
summary judgment in favor of Florida Gas and Southern
Natural,  finding that Plaintiffs did
not provide evidence that created a genuine issue of material
fact as to whether either of these defendants had engaged in
dredging activities. The certified transcript of the Southern
Natural deposition was finally provided to Plaintiffs on
November 17, 2015-five days after the district court's
moved the district court to reconsider its grant of summary
judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). In
their brief in support of this motion, Plaintiffs argued that
the district court's ruling as it pertained to Southern
Natural was procedurally erroneous because Plaintiffs did not
have an opportunity to supplement their opposition to the
defendants' motion under the terms of the case management
order. Plaintiffs also attached additional evidence to their
brief which they argued supported their claims against both
Florida Gas and Southern Natural. This new evidence included
Southern Natural's deposition testimony, exhibits offered
at Southern Natural's deposition, and Southern
Natural's responses to requests for admissions.
district court denied Plaintiffs' motion for
reconsideration as to both Florida Gas and Southern Natural.
Plaintiffs now appeal the district court's original order
granting summary judgment as ...