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Castille v. Apache Deepwater LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

June 20, 2017

Castille et al.
v.
Apache Deepwater LLC et al.

         By Consent of the Parties

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          CAROL B. WHITEHURST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a Motion For Summary Judgment filed by defendant, Island Operating Company, Inc. (“IOC”), [Rec. Doc. 156] and Rory L. Castille and Natasha Castille's Memorandum in response thereto [Rec. Doc. 173]. For the following reasons, IOC's Motion will be granted.

         I. Background

         This action arises out of an accident on October 13, 2012, in which Rory Castille (hereinafter “Plaintiff) sustained personal injuries and damages while working on Apache's West Cameron 111-F unmanned satellite production platform (“WC 111-F”) on the Outer Continental Shelf. At the time of the accident, Plaintiff was employed by Total Safety, Inc. (“Total Safety”) as a technician for navigational aids and fire-fighting equipment. Plaintiff alleges he was injured when, after opening the door to the wellhead master control panel (“MCP”) on WC 111-F, he was engulfed by a flash fire. R. 1, ¶.

         Plaintiffs brought this suit on November 14, 2012. R. 1. Plaintiffs originally sued Apache, the owner of WC 111-F, and IOC[1], the operator of the platform, “in the alternative in the event it is established that as operator it failed to take proper safeguards. . .”[2] Plaintiffs claimed that as a result of Defendants' negligence, Rory Castille (“hereinafter referred to as “Plaintiff) suffered and will continue to suffer bodily injuries, physical pain and mental anguish, physical impairment and disfigurement, loss of earnings, and medical expenses. Id. at ¶9. Natasha Castille alleged a loss of consortium claim. Id. at ¶ 10.

         IOC filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment seeking dismissal of Plaintiffs claims with prejudice. R. 156. IOC argues that the foregoing facts establish that no IOC production operator was ever in a position to prevent Plaintiff s accident. IOC further argues that it is not liable for Plaintiffs' alleged injuries because it did not assume nor did it owe a duty of care to Plaintiff.

         No party has filed an opposition to the motion. Instead, the plaintiffs filed a “Memorandum Regarding Island Operating Company, Inc.'s Motion For Summary Judgment.” R. 173. In the Memorandum, the plaintiffs addressed the “pertinent facts” set forth by IOC in its memorandum in support of the Motion for Summary Judgment. Id. The plaintiffs state that they do not dispute the “pertinent facts” in support of IOC's Motion.[3] Id. Accordingly, the Court construes the plaintiffs' Memorandum as a concession that they have no objection to IOC's Motion for Summary Judgment and a concurrence that these facts are undisputed.

         II. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment will be granted only if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions, together with affidavits, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Fed R. Civ P. 56(c); Brown v. City of Houston, 337 F.3d 539, 540-41 (5th Cir.2003). A material fact is a fact which, under applicable law, may alter the outcome of the suit. Ameristar Jet Charter, Inc. v. Signal Composites, Inc., 271 F.3d 624, 626 (5th Cir.2001). A dispute is genuine when a reasonable finder of fact could resolve the issue in favor of either party, based on the evidence before it. See Royal v. CCC & R Tres Arboles, L.L.C., 736 F.3d 396, 400 (5th Cir.2013). “The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating that there exists no genuine issues of material fact.” In re Vioxx Prods. Liab. Litig., 501 F.Supp.2d 776, 781 (E.D.La.2007). When considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court must “review the facts drawing all inferences most favorable to the party opposing the motion.” Gen. Universal Sys., Inc. v. Lee, 379 F.3d 131, 137 (5th Cir.2004). The non-moving party must then go beyond the pleadings and “identify specific evidence in the record and ... articulate the precise manner in which that evidence supports his or her claim.” Fuentes v. Postmaster Gen. of U.S. Postal Serv., 282 F.App'x 296, 300 (5th Cir.2008). Conclusory allegations, speculation, unsubstantiated assertions, and legalistic arguments are not an adequate substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial. TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James of Wash., 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir.2002).

         III. Analysis

         IOC contends it is not liable for Plaintiff's alleged injuries because it did not owe Plaintiff a duty to maintain and/or repair any parts located within the wellhead MCP on WC 111-F which lead to Plaintiff's injuries. It is undisputed that because this case arises on the OCS, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”) mandates that the law of the adjacent state, in this case Louisiana, governs Plaintiff's claims to the extent that it does not conflict with other federal law and regulations. 43 U.S.C. § 1333(a)(2)(A); McNeese v. Reading & Bates Drilling Co., 749 F.2d 270, 273 (5th Cir.1985) (state law is “surrogate federal law”). The Fifth Circuit has held that Louisiana's “duty-risk” standard does not conflict with federal law. Gates v. Shell Oil, 812 F.2d 1509, 1516 (5th Cir. 1987) (citing Harris v. Pizza Hut of Louisiana, Inc., 455 So.2d 1364, 1369-70 (La.1984)).

         “Negligence claims under Louisiana law undergo a five-part analysis: did the defendant owe a duty to conform conduct to a specific standard; was that obligation breached; was the breach the cause-in-fact of plaintiff's injury; was the breach the cause-in-law of plaintiff's injuries; and have actual damages been shown?” McCarroll v. Wood Group Management Services, Inc., 561 Fed.Appx. 407, 409-10 (5th Cir. 2014). “In Louisiana the existence of a duty and its scope are questions of law. Duty varies depending on the facts, circumstances, and context of each case and is limited by the particular risk, harm, and plaintiff involved.” Dupre v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 20 F.3d 154, 157 (5th Cir. 1994).

         IOC contends that the following undisputed deposition testimony demonstrates the absence of a legal duty owed to Plaintiff by IOC ...


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