United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
PETROLEUM HELICOPTERS, INC.
APICAL INDUSTRIES, INC., ET AL.
PATRICK J. HANNA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
pending is the motion for partial summary judgment, which was
filed by the plaintiff, PHI, Inc. (Rec. Doc. 202). The motion
concerns three of defendant Apical Industries, Inc.'s
affirmative defenses and the value of the helicopter that was
lost in the incident underlying this lawsuit The motion is
opposed. Also pending is the related motion for leave to
submit a confidential affidavit to the court for in
camera review, which was filed by the defendants Apical
Industries, Inc. and Offshore Helicopter Support Services,
Inc. (Rec. Doc. 209). The motion for leave has to do with the
defendants' opposition to the plaintiff's motion for
partial summary judgment concerning the value of the
helicopter. The motion for leave is also opposed. Considering
the evidence, the briefs, the arguments of counsel, and the
applicable law, and for the reasons explained below, the
plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment is
denied, and the defendants' motion for in camera
review of a confidential affidavit is denied as moot.
December 1, 2011, engine failure forced a helicopter owned
and operated by PHI to make an emergency landing in the Gulf
of Mexico. During the emergency landing, the pilot inflated
skid-mounted floats that were designed to keep the helicopter
from sinking. The float system failed, and the helicopter was
lost. Defendant Apical Industries, Inc. allegedly designed,
manufactured, and sold the float system. PHI seeks to recover
from Apical and others for the loss of the helicopter.
The Applicable Standard
Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine dispute as
to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. A fact is material if proof of
its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the
lawsuit under the applicable governing law. A genuine issue
of material fact exists if a reasonable jury could render a
verdict for the nonmoving party.
party seeking summary judgment has the initial responsibility
of informing the court of the basis for its motion and
identifying those parts of the record that demonstrate the
absence of genuine issues of material fact. If the moving
party carries its initial burden, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party to demonstrate the existence of a genuine
issue of a material fact. All facts and inferences are construed
in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
dispositive issue is one on which the nonmoving party will
bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may
satisfy its burden by pointing out that there is insufficient
proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving
party's claim. The motion should be granted if the
nonmoving party cannot produce evidence to support an
essential element of its claim.
Genuinely Disputed Material Facts Preclude Summary
Judgment with Regard to Apical's Warranty
first issue presented in PHI's motion is whether Apical
should be permitted to maintain its defense that its warranty
obligations to PHI with regard to the subject float system
are limited in accordance with written warranty documents
(Thirteenth Defense), contracts or writings between the
companies (Fourteenth Defense), or purchase orders or
invoices for the subject float system (Fifteenth Defense).
Apical claims that its obligations to PHI are limited in
accordance with the terms and provisions of the “Apical
Industries Emergency Float Raft System Warranty.” (Rec.
Doc. 202-7 at 2). In particular, the written warranty
document places twelve-month and eighteen-month time limits
on Apical's warranty obligations. Since the float system
at issue in the lawsuit was purchased by PHI in 2005 and the
helicopter was lost in 2011, application of the time limits
in the warranty document would preclude PHI's recovery
against Apical. The warranty document also contains other
provisions limiting the scope of the warranty.
Louisiana law, a defendant may rely on the exclusion or
limitation of a warranty, including a warranty against
redhibitory defects, if the waiver is written in clear and
unambiguous terms, set forth in a contract of sale or similar
document, and brought to the attention of the buyer at the
time of the sale. Apical has the burden of establishing the
existence of an applicable and valid warranty
waiver. Whether there is an effective waiver of
warranty is a question of fact.
argued that the deposition testimony of Tom Yakubovich and
Bob DesRosiers established that the warranty document relied
upon by Apical was never provided to PHI and its terms and
provisions consequently were unknown to PHI.Apical
countered that argument by directing this Court to
inconsistent portions of Mr. Yakubovich's and Mr.
DesRosiers's deposition testimony and submitting evidence
that PHI made warranty claims against Apical and therefore
must have been aware of both the existence of the warranty
and the terms of the warranty. Additionally, Apical submitted
the affidavit of its vice president and general manager,
Gordon Hill, who stated that all sales of Apical emergency
floatation systems and individual components of such systems
are subject to the terms of the Apical Industries Emergency
Float Raft System Warranty. Based on the competing
evidence submitted, this Court finds that there is a genuine
issue of material fact concerning whether an effective waiver
of warranty exists. Therefore, to the extent that PHI's
motion seeks partial summary judgment with regard to
Apical's thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth
affirmative defenses, the motion is denied.
Genuinely Disputed Factual Issues Preclude Summary
Judgment with Regard to ...