United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Cenac Marine Service's motion for partial
summary judgment on Jason Clark's unseaworthiness claim,
withheld safety bonus claim, and Jones Act claim relating to
his osteomyelitis. For the following reasons, the motion is
a consolidated case stemming from an injury to a seaman. The
Court has issued an extensive Order and Reasons on this same
matter, and for the sake of brevity assumes familiarity with
the facts. The Court hereby adopts the summary of the facts
in its March 22, 2017 Order and Reasons.
30, 2016 Jason Clark, an employee of Cenac Marine Services,
completed a Cenac incident report form. He indicated that he
injured his back the day before, June 29, 2016, when he was
moving a cross-over hose without the help of a deckhand. On
the incident report, Clark answered “no” to
questions about whether the injury was caused by any
equipment on the vessel or by another person. Additionally,
Cenac offered a safety reward bonus to employees who had no
incidents or accidents during the six-month period starting
on January 1, 2016 until June 30, 2016. Clark's accident
happened on June 29, 2016 and was reported on June 30, 2016.
As a result of Clark's accident, he was diagnosed with a
back strain. In the course of his treatment following the
accident, his physicians also discovered that Clark had a
spinal infection, osteomyelitis. Cenac paid for Clark's
treatment under protest, reserving all rights to seek
Court has previously granted summary judgment in favor of
Cenac, holding that Cenac was not liable for maintenance and
cure payments to Clark because of his intentional concealment
of a back injury. Cenac now moves for summary judgment as to
Clark's unseaworthiness claim, withheld safety bonus
claim, and Jones Act negligence claim as it relates to
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.
A. Unseaworthiness Claim
is a “remedy separate from, independent of, and
additional to other claims against the shipowner, whether
created by statute or under general maritime law.”
Usner v. Luckenbach Overseas Corp., 400 U.S. 494,
498 (1971). Importantly, “liability based upon
unseaworthiness is wholly distinct from liability based upon
negligence.” Id. “The reason, of course,
is that unseaworthiness is a condition, and how that
condition came into being - whether by negligence or
otherwise - is quite irrelevant to the owner's liability
for personal injuries resulting from it.” Id.
“A vessel's condition of unseaworthiness might
arise from any number of circumstances.” Id.
at 499. “Her gear might be defective, her appurtenances
in disrepair, her crew unfit.” Id. However,
“[t]o hold that [an] individual act of negligence
rendered the ship unseaworthy would be to subvert the
fundamental distinction between unseaworthiness and
negligence.” Id. at 500.
contends that there was no condition on board the M/V GENIE
CENAC, where Clark worked at the time of the alleged
incident, or with any of its appurtenances or its crew.
Additionally, Cenac points to Clark's deposition which
Q: Is there anything that your fellow workers did aboard the
Genie tug, the GENIE CENAC, did any of them do anything ...