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Doucet v. R. & R. Boats, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

October 10, 2017

ELROY DOUCET
v.
R. & R. BOATS, INC.

          RULING ON CONSENT MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE COMPLAINT OF INTERVENTION

          ERIN WILDER-DOOMES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Consent Motion for Leave to File Complaint of Intervention (the “Motion to Intervene”)[1] filed by American Longshore Mutual Association, Ltd. (“ALMA”). ALMA seeks to intervene in this suit pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a).[2] Per ALMA's Motion to Intervene, “[c]ounsel for plaintiff, Elroy Doucet, has no opposition to the filing and granting of this motion.[3] For the reasons set forth herein, ALMA's Motion to Intervene[4] is GRANTED.[5]

         I. Background

         On July 3, 2017, plaintiff, Elroy Doucet (“Plaintiff”), filed a Complaint for Damages in Admiralty (the “Complaint”) against defendant, R. & R. Boats, Inc. (“R. & R.” or “Defendant”).[6]

         Per the Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he was injured while traveling as a passenger on board the M/V Landon James, “a vessel in navigation” “owned, being operated by and under the sole custody and control of” Defendant.[7] Plaintiff alleges that at the time of the incident, while transporting Plaintiff and “other workers to various platforms located in the Gulf of Mexico”[8] the M/V Landon James encountered progressively worsening seas “to the point where they were unreasonably dangerous for the M/V Landon James to continue traversing.”[9] Due to the “extremely rough sea conditions, ” Plaintiff alleges that he “lost his balance and fell onto and against the edge of a table, striking and injuring his back, left shoulder, and neck….”[10] Plaintiff contends that he has been rendered totally disabled from working, and asserts that his injuries occurred “solely through the negligence and/or fault on the part of” Defendant.[11]

         Plaintiff alleges that “[o]n the date and time of the incident, [he] was employed by W&T Offshore….”[12] Per its proposed Complaint of Intervention, ALMA alleges that it “issued a Member's Coverage Agreement to W&T Offshore, Inc. covering its liabilities for injuries to its employees pursuant to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 U.S.C. §1333 (‘OCSLA'), extending the benefits of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. §901, et seq. (‘LHWCA').”[13] ALMA alleges that it “has incurred liability for the payment of indemnity and medical benefits under the OCSLA and LHWCA to Elroy Doucet.”[14] Specifically, ALMA asserts that following the incident, Plaintiff filed a claim for workers' compensation benefits and that “ALMA paid to or on behalf of [Plaintiff] weekly compensation benefits, medical expenses, and other expenses…” such that it “is entitled to intervene in these proceedings, and to recover from R. & R. Boats, Inc. directly and by preference and priority from the first monies received by [Plaintiff]…for the compensation, medical expenses and attorney fees ALMA has paid….”[15]

         II. Law and Analysis

         ALMA seeks to intervene in this suit under Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a). That section provides that on “timely motion” the court must permit intervention by anyone who is either (1) given an unconditional right to intervene by federal statute; or (2) “claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action, and is so situated that disposing of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the movant's ability to protect its interest, unless existing parties adequately represent that interest.”

         A. Timeliness of the Motion to Intervene

         Whenever leave to intervene is sought under Rule 24, “the application must be timely.” Stallworth v. Monsanto Co., 558 F.2d 257, 263 (5th Cir. 1977). The timeliness of a motion to intervene is a matter committed to the sound discretion of the trial court. McDonald v. E.J. Lavino, 430 F.2d 1065, 1071 (5th Cir. 1970). Timeliness “is not limited to chronological considerations but ‘is to be determined from all the circumstances.'” Stallworth v. Monsanto Co., 558 F.2d 257, 263 (5th Cir. 1977). The Fifth Circuit has set forth four factors to consider when evaluating whether a motion to intervene is timely: (1) the length of time during which the proposed intervenor should have known of his interest in the case before he petitioned to intervene; (2) the extent of prejudice that those parties already in the litigation would suffer “as a result of the would-be intervenor's failure to apply for intervention as soon as he actually knew or reasonably should have known of his interest in the case;” (3) the extent of prejudice to the proposed intervenor if he is not allowed to intervene; and (4) the existence of “unusual circumstances militating either for or against a determination that the application is timely.” Ross v. Marshall, 426 F.3d 745, 754 (5th Cir. 2005) (citing Stallworth v. Monsanto Co., 558 F.2d 257, 264-266 (5th Cir. 1977)).

         Here, Plaintiff filed his Complaint on July 3, 2017.[16] ALMA filed the Motion to Intervene on September 16, 2017.[17] The previously set scheduling conference was rescheduled to permit a ruling on the Motion to Intervene, [18] and therefore no scheduling order has been put in place. No party has asserted the Motion to Intervene is untimely. Accordingly, the Court finds ALMA's Motion to Intervene to be timely.

         B. Intervention of Right

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a), on timely motion, a party is entitled to intervene in a pending lawsuit when it either “is given an unconditional right to intervene by federal statute” or (1) the potential intervenor asserts an interest that is related to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action in which he seeks to intervene; (2) the potential intervenor is so situated that disposition of the case may as a practical matter impair or impede his ability to protect his interest; and (3) the parties already in the action do not adequately protect the potential intervenor's interest. Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a)(1) & (2); Ford v. City of Huntsville, 242 F.3d 235, 239 (5th Cir. 2001). As discussed above, the Court finds ALMA's Motion to Intervene to be timely.

         “The LHWCA, like other workers' compensation schemes, embodies a compromise between workers and employers: workers injured on the job receive quick, certain compensation from their employers regardless of fault, but employers are generally absolved from any further liability in relation to such injuries.” Chenevert v. Travelers Indem. Co., 746 F.3d 581, 585 (5th Cir. 2014). “However, the LHWCA generally preserves an injured worker's remedies against third parties who may have caused the injury. For example, a worker covered by the LHWCA whose injury is ‘caused by the negligence of a vessel' may bring an action against the vessel.” Id. (citing 33 U.S.C. § 905(b) (“In the event of injury to a person covered under this chapter caused by the negligence of a vessel, then such person, or anyone otherwise entitled to recover damages by reason thereof, may bring an action against such vessel ...


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