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Jefferson v. International Marine, LLC

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

July 5, 2017

ROBERT JEFFERSON
v.
INTERNATIONAL MARINE, LLC

         On Appeal from The 19th Judicial District Court, Parish of East Baton Rouge, State of Louisiana Trial Court No. C621251 The Honorable Todd W. Hernandez, Judge Presiding

          E. Byrne Edwards Lafayette, Louisiana Attorney for Plaintiff/Appellee Robert Jefferson

          Wilton E. Bland III Attorneys for Defendants/Third-Party, Juan C. Obregon, Plaintiffs/Appellants New Orleans, Louisiana International Marine, LLC and International Offshore Services, LLC

          Nicholas J. Cenac Attorneys for Third-Party Defendant/ R. Edward Blanchard Appellee General Fabricators, Inc. Sidney W. Degan III New Orleans, Louisiana

          Catherine M. Landry Attorneys for Third-Party Defendant/ Jonathan L. Woods Appellee McMoRan Oil & Gas, LLC Lafayette, Louisiana

          BEFORE: PETTIGREW, WELCH, CRAIN, THERIOT, AND HOLDRIDGE, JJ.

         

          WELCH, J.

         International Marine, LLC ("International") appeals a summary judgment in favor of McMoRan Oil & Gas, LLC ("McMoRan") dismissing International's third-party demand against McMoRan. For reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This case arises out of an offshore oilfield related accident. The plaintiff, Robert Jefferson, was on the deck of a supply vessel waiting to be transported onto an offshore drilling platform, when he allegedly stepped into a gap caused by a missing deck board, fell, and sustained injuries. McMoRan was the owner of the drilling platform. International was the owner of the vessel, and pursuant to a charter agreement with McMoran, it provided service vessels for transporting personnel and supplies to the drilling platform. Jefferson was an employee of General Fabricators, Inc., a contractor that provided a broad range of services to McMoRan related to the drilling platform under a general services contract.

         Jefferson sued International alleging that its negligence was the sole cause of the accident. International filed a third-party demand against McMoRan, asserting claims under both the charter agreement between International and McMoRan, and the services contract between General Fabricators and McMoRan.[1] Under the charter agreement, International alleged that it was entitled to indemnity from McMoRan for any liability to Jefferson. Under the services contract, International alleged that it was an "invitee" of McMoRan, and, as such, International claimed it was entitled to indemnity from General Fabricators under that agreement. However, according to the third-party demand, International was deprived of this right of indemnity when McMoRan breached the services contract by failing to pay the cost of insurance obtained by General Fabricators to cover the indemnity obligation.

         McMoRan filed a motion for summary judgment seeking the dismissal of International's third-party demand on the following two grounds: (1) the charter agreement did not require McMoRan to indemnify or defend International for Jefferson's claims, and (2) the services contract did not require McMoRan to obtain insurance coverage (referred to in the motion and by the parties as "Marcel coverage") for the benefit of International.[2]

         After a hearing, the trial court granted McMoRan's motion for summary judgment. In its written reasons for judgment, the trial court found that McMoRan had no obligation to defend or indemnify International for Jefferson's claims and that McMoRan was not obligated to secure insurance coverage for International. A judgment in accordance with the trial court's written reasons, which dismissed the entirety of International's third-party demand against McMoRan with prejudice, was signed on December 30, 2015, and it is from this judgment that International now appeals.

         LAW ...


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