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Moreau v. Weston Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 26, 2017

ALLEN MOREAU, ET AL.
v.
WESTON SOLUTIONS, INC.

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARTIN L . C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is the plaintiffs' motion to remand. For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.

         Background

         This litigation arises from personal injuries allegedly suffered as a result of occupational exposure to Pseudomonas aeruginosa while the plaintiff worked aboard a vessel in the aftermath of the BP oil spill.

         After the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and resulting oil spill in April 2010, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), contracted with Weston Solutions, Inc. to conduct scientific testing to analyze the extent of natural resource injuries and determine the restoration actions needed in the Gulf of Mexico. Because Weston did not have its own vessel, and lacked knowledge of the local waterways, it contracted with Native Adventures LLC, owned by Allen Moreau, which provided an unnamed vessel. Moreau alleges that he worked as a crewmember of the vessel, and operated the vessel for Weston from May 2010 until December 2010. Moreau alleges that his duties included piloting and maintaining the vessel.

         Moreau first learned that he was infected with the bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, on December 15, 2015. Moreau alleges that he became infected with the bacteria while working for Weston on the vessel, and that Weston should have known that the bacteria was present on the vessel.

         On December 12, 2016, Allen Moreau and his wife, Tammy, filed suit in this Court, alleging Moreau contracted a bacterial infection while working for Weston. Moreau alleged he was a Jones Act seaman, that Weston was negligent in failing to adopt adequate safety measures to protect him from infection, that the vessel was unseaworthy, and that he is entitled to maintenance and cure. Mr. Moreau seeks compensatory and punitive damages. His wife, Tammy, seeks loss of consortium damages. Two days after filing in this Court, on December 14, 2016, the plaintiffs filed suit in the Civil District Court of Orleans Parish, making the same allegations. The case pending in this Court was voluntarily dismissed a few weeks later.

         On February 3, 2017, the defendants removed the case to this Court. On March 7, 2017, the plaintiffs moved to remand, without citing a single legal authority; after the case was transferred to this Court the motion was denied without prejudice. See Order and Reasons dated 5/5/17. The plaintiffs now move for a second time to remand this case to Civil District Court in Orleans Parish.

         I.

         A.

         Although plaintiff challenges removal in this case, the removing defendants carry the burden of showing the propriety of this Court's removal jurisdiction. See Manguno v. Prudential Prop.& Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002); see also Jernigan v. Ashland Oil, Inc., 989 F.2d 812, 815 (5th Cir. 1993).Remand is proper if at any time the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Given the significant federalism concerns implicated by removal, the removal statute is strictly construed “and any doubt about the propriety of removal must be resolved in favor of remand.” Gutierrez v. Flores, 543 F.3d 248, 251 (5th Cir. 2008)(citation omitted); Gasch v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co., 491 F.3d 278, 281-82 (5th Cir.2007)(citations omitted).

         B.

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only the authority granted by the United States Constitution and conferred by the United States Congress. Howery v. Allstate Ins. Co., 243 F.3d 912, 916 (5th Cir. 2001). A defendant may generally remove a civil action filed in state court if the federal court has original jurisdiction over the case -- that is, if the plaintiff could have brought the action in federal court from the outset. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Suits not brought under federal law “may not be removed if any of the parties in interest properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2); Int'l Energy Ventures Mgmt., LLC v. United Energy Grp., Ltd., 818 F.3d 193, 199 (5th Cir. 2016)(“when a properly joined defendant is a resident of the same state as the plaintiff, removal is improper.”). To determine whether it has jurisdiction, the Court must consider ...


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