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Thibodeaux v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

August 15, 2017

ISAAC THIBODEAUX
v.
CHEVRON U.S.A., INC., ET AL.

         SECTION “B” (4)

          ORDER AND REASONS

         Before the Court is Defendant Jade Marine, Inc.'s “Motion for Summary Judgment.” Rec. Doc. 51. Plaintiff timely filed an opposition memorandum. Rec. Doc. 54. Defendant then requested, and was granted, leave to file a reply memorandum. Rec. Doc. 57. After further discovery, Defendant requested, and was granted, leave to file a supplemental memorandum. Rec. Doc. 61. Pursuant to this Court's Order (Rec. Doc. 59), Plaintiff timely filed a response to the supplemental brief (Rec. Doc. 61). For the reasons discussed below, IT IS ORDERED that Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Rec. Doc. 51) is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         This case arises out of injuries suffered by Plaintiff Isaac Thibodeaux (“Plaintiff”) on April 28, 2016. Rec. Doc. 1 at ¶ IV. On that date, Plaintiff used a swing rope to transfer from a platform to the M/V MR. CLINT (“CLINT”), owned and operated by Defendant Chevron U.S.A., Inc. (“Chevron”). Id. at ¶¶ V, VII. Plaintiff alleges that the CLINT “failed to properly land [P]laintiff on the vessel, causing him to land in the” Gulf of Mexico, where he was forced to stay “for an extended period, grasping onto the leg of the platform . . . .” Id. at ¶ VII.

         Plaintiff also alleges in his original complaint that the M/V REVELATION (“REVELATION”), owned and operated by Defendant Jade Marine, Inc. (“Jade Marine”), was an unseaworthy vessel because it did not have a properly-trained crew. Id. at ¶¶ VI, VIII. Plaintiff clarified in his amended complaint that the REVELATION “failed to follow industry custom and/or applicable Chevron safety rules and/or policies by dropping off and leaving [P]laintiff on the platform alone.” Rec. Doc. 15 at ¶ VII. In the instant motion, Jade Marine explains that it was “hired by Chevron to provide passenger and equipment transportation services” and that, on the day of the accident, Jade Marine transported Plaintiff to platform BMI #10 via the REVELATION. Rec. Doc. 51-2 at 1-2. After an hour, the REVELATION was instructed to transfer personnel at a different structure about fifteen to twenty minutes away, so it left Plaintiff unattended on the platform. Id.

         When Plaintiff completed his work aboard the BMI #10, he radioed for the CLINT to pick him up. Rec. Doc. 51-2 at 2. After Plaintiff subsequently fell into the water, the CLINT was unable to retrieve him and contacted the REVELATION for assistance. Id. The REVELATION “arrived on scene within fifteen to twenty minutes and was able to retrieve [Plaintiff] from the water without incident.” Id. at 2-3.

         Plaintiff amended his complaint a second time to add Defendant Danos & Curole Marine Contractors, L.L.C. (“Danos”), which Plaintiff alleges employed the captain of the CLINT at all relevant times. Rec. Doc. 29 at ¶ 2. In each complaint, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants acted negligently. Rec. Docs. 1, 15, 29 at ¶ VIII.

         II. THE PARTIES' CONTENTIONS

         Jade Marine argues that Plaintiff has not cited to “any policy promulgated by Chevron or industry custom” that would require Jade Marine or the REVELATION to standby at the platform until Plaintiff completed his work. Rec. Doc. 51-2 at 3. Accordingly, it maintains that there is no evidence that it owed a duty to Plaintiff. Id. at 6.

         Plaintiff responds that Jade Marine's motion is premature. Rec. Doc. 54 at 3. He moves under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d) to defer ruling on this motion until after discovery is completed. Id. at 5.

         Jade Marine counters that this matter has been pending for a year and a significant amount of written discovery has been completed. Rec. Doc. 57 at 1.

         III. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is appropriate only if “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). See also TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James of Wash., 276 F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002). A genuine issue exists if the evidence would allow a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The movant must point to “portions of ‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, ' which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323. If and when the movant carries this burden, the non-movant must then go beyond the pleadings and present other evidence to establish a genuine issue. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).

         However, “where the non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial, the movant may merely point to an absence of evidence, thus shifting to the non-movant the burden of demonstrating by competent summary judgment proof that there is an issue of material fact warranting trial.” Lindsey v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 16 F.3d 616, 618 (5th Cir. 1994). Conclusory rebuttals of the pleadings are insufficient ...


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