United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
CONTINENTAL INSURANCE COMPANY, ET AL.
L&L MARINE TRANSPORTATION, INC., ET AL
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are P&I Underwriters' and Atlantic
Specialty Insurance's cross-motions for summary judgment.
For the following reasons, P&I Underwriters motion for
summary judgment is GRANTED and Atlantic's motion for
summary judgment is DENIED.
insurance dispute arises from a marine allision involving
multiple boats; one of which, sank. P&I Underwriters insures
L&L Marine Transportation under a protection and
indemnity (P&I) policy. Atlantic Specialty also insures
L&L, but under a hull and machinery policy.
basic facts in the underlying lawsuit are as follows. The M/V
ANGELA RAE, a vessel owned by L&L, was the lead tug in a
four-vessel flotilla. The M/V ANGELA RAE and the M/V FREEDOM
were positioned behind a barge, the FSB-101, and the M/V MISS
DOROTHY was positioned in front of the barge. When the
flotilla approached the Sunshine Bridge in St. James Parish,
the M/V MISS DOROTHY allided with the bridge and sank.
insurers of the M/V MISS DOROTHY brought suit against
L&L, the owner of the M/V ANGELA RAE, contending that
L&L was responsible for the allision and the resulting
loss of the M/V MISS DOROTHY. L&L sought coverage from
Atlantic Specialty against these claims, but Atlantic
Specialty denied coverage. Pursuant to its protection and
indemnity policy, P&I has funded L&L's defense in
that case. In this dispute, P&I seeks a judgment
declaring that Atlantic Specialty has a duty to reimburse the
defense costs of L&L relative to the allegations made
against them in civil action 14-2967. Atlantic Specialty
files a cross-motion for summary judgment on the basis that
its hull policy does not provide coverage for the damages
allegedly incurred by the M/V MISS DOROTHY and a dismissal of
P&I's complaint against it.
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 instructs that summary judgment is
proper if the record discloses no genuine dispute as to any
material fact such that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. No genuine dispute of fact
exists if the record taken as a whole could not lead a
rational trier of fact to find for the non-moving party.
See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio.,
475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). A genuine dispute of fact exists
only "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the non-moving party."
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
Court emphasizes that the mere argued existence of a factual
dispute does not defeat an otherwise properly supported
motion. See id. Therefore, "[i]f the evidence
is merely colorable, or is not significantly probative,
" summary judgment is appropriate. Id. at
249-50 (citations omitted). Summary judgment is also proper
if the party opposing the motion fails to establish an
essential element of his case. See Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). In this regard,
the non-moving party must do more than simply deny the
allegations raised by the moving party. See Donaghey v.
Ocean Drilling & Exploration Co., 974 F.2d 646, 649
(5th Cir. 1992). Rather, he must come forward with competent
evidence, such as affidavits or depositions, to buttress his
claim. Id. Hearsay evidence and unsworn documents
that cannot be presented in a form that would be admissible
in evidence at trial do not qualify as competent opposing
evidence. Martin v. John W. Stone Oil Distrib.,
Inc., 819 F.2d 547, 549 (5th Cir. 1987); Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(2). Finally, in evaluating the summary judgment motion,
the Court must read the facts in the light most favorable to
the non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
interpretation of an insurance policy is a question of law.
Cal-Dive Intern., Inc. v. Seabright Ins. Co., 627
F.3d 110, 113 (5th Cir. 2010). Accordingly, summary judgment
review is appropriate.
law governs the interpretation of marine insurance contracts.
See id. (“The interpretation of a marine
policy of insurance is governed by relevant state law . . .
.”). Under Louisiana law, “courts interpreting
insurance contracts should ‘seek to determine the
parties' common intent, as reflected by the words in the
policy.'” Gabarick v. Laurin Maritime
(America), Inc., 650 F.3d 545, 553 (5th Cir.
2011)(quoting Seacor Holdings, Inc. v. Commonwealth Ins.
Co., 635 F.3d 675, 680 (5th Cir. 2011). The words in an
insurance policy must be given their generally prevailing
meaning. Id. (citing La. Civ. Code art. 2047).
“[W]hen the language of an insurance policy is clear,
courts lack the authority to change or alter its terms under
the guise of interpretation.” Coleman v. School Bd.
Of Richland Parish, 418 F.3d 511, 518 (5th Cir.
2005)(quoting La. Ins. Guar. Ass'n v. Interstate Fire
& Cas. Co., 630 So.2d 759, 764 (La. 1994)).
after applying the other general rules of construction an
ambiguity remains, the ambiguous contractual provision is to
be construed against the drafter, or, as originating in the
insurance context, in favor of the insured.” La.
Ins. Guar. Ass'n, 630 So.2d at 764. “Ambiguity
will also be resolved by ascertaining how a reasonable
insurance policy purchaser would construe the clause at the
time the insurance contract was entered.” Id.
“Yet, if the policy wording at issue is clear and
unambiguously expresses the parties' intent, the