United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
B. WHITEHURST, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment on Medical
Causation filed by Plaintiff, Jonathan Lebrun, [Rec. Doc.
80], Defendant, Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling,
Inc's (“Transocean”) Memorandum in Opposition
[Rec. Doc. 101], and Plaintiff's Reply [Rec. Doc. 104]
and Plaintiff's Reply thereto [Rec. Doc. 107]. The Court
conducted a hearing with oral argument on the Motion on
October 18, 2017. For the oral reasons assigned in the
hearing and for the reasons that follow, the Motion will be
Jonathan Lebrun, worked for Baker Hughes Oilfield Operations,
Inc. (“BHOOI”) from December 2005 until April 24,
2015. Plaintiff was assigned to work as a sample catcher or
“mudlogger” aboard Transocean's drillship,
DEEPWATER CHAMPION, from March 13, 2015 until April 24, 2015.
Plaintiff alleges while he was aboard the DEEPWATER CHAMPION
he collected the mud samples in an enclosed, air tight
“shaker shack” located above the main deck. He
further alleges he injured his lower back by having to
repeatedly pry open a vacuum sealed, 1/4 inch steel
blast-proof shaker house door during his 12-hour shifts.
Plaintiff was terminated by Baker Hughes on April 24, 2015
due to a company-wide Reduction in Force.
filed this action alleging claims under the Jones Act. R.
1. On June 14, 2016, this Court found that Plaintiff was
not a Jones Act seaman. R. 44. In his Second Amended
Complaint, Plaintiff alleged a claim for unseaworthiness as a
Sieracki seaman as well as for negligence and gross
negligence under the general maritime law; alternatively,
Plaintiff alleged his action arises under the Longshore and
Harbor Workers Compensation Act (“LHWCA”) and the
general maritime law. R. 56. On August 18, 2017, the
Court denied Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment for
Sieracki Seaman status. R. 109. Thus, Plaintiff
retained a negligence claim against Transocean, the owner of
the DEEPWATER CHAMPION.
Summary Judgment Standard
judgment is appropriate if no genuine issue of material fact
exists and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Under Rule 56(c), the
moving party bears the initial burden of “informing the
district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying
those portions of [the record] which it believes demonstrate
the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986);
see Stahl v. Novartis Pharms. Corp., 283 F.3d 254,
263 (5th Cir.2002). The party moving for summary
judgment must demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact but need not negate the elements of the
nonmovant's case. Exxon Corp. v. Oxxford Clothes XX,
Inc., 109 F.3d 1070, 1074 (5thCir.1997). When
the moving party, has met its Rule 56(c) burden, the
nonmoving party, cannot survive a summary judgment motion by
resting on the mere allegations of its pleadings.
“[T]he nonmovant must identify specific evidence in the
record and articulate the manner in which that evidence
supports that party's claim.” Johnson v. Deep
E. Tex. Reg'l Narcotics Trafficking Task Force, 379
F.3d 293, 301 (5thCir.2004).
filed this Motion moving the Court to find that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact that Transocean's
negligence substantially caused and/or contributed to
Plaintiff's lumbar injuries and resulting surgery.
Specifically, Plaintiff contends that there is no genuine
dispute that the DEEPWATER CHAMPION's “enclosed,
vacuum sealed, air tight shaker shack” sealed the
shaker door shut causing Plaintiff “to repeatedly
wrench the door open” leading to his back injury.
claims his lumbar problems began one week after he left the
DEEPWATER CHAMPION. He notes that Baker Hughes' Review
and Comments in 2014 and early 2015 demonstrate that
Plaintiff was “reliable and hard working” with
“No accidents” and the company had “No
issues w/ Mr. Lebrun. Good solid, dependable, reliable
employee.” R. 80-6, Exh. 15. He further notes
that he has successfully passed a variety of physical and
training tests. Id. at Exh. 16.
support of his claim that his repeated opening of the
“a vacuum sealed” shaker shack door while he was
working on the DEEPWATER CHAMPION caused his lumbar injury,
Plaintiff cites the depositions of five co-workers on the
DEEPWATER CHAMPION. R. 80-4, Exh. 1, Depo. Of McDonald;
80-5, Exh. 11, Demo. Of Lookofsky; 80-5, Exh. 12, Demo. Of
Godin; 80-5, Exh. 13; Demo. Of Raines; 80-7, Exh. 7, Demo. Of
Martin. Plaintiff contends that the testimony of these
individuals provides that the “shaker shack doors were
hard to open.” R. 80-2, p. 7. He further
contends that they state that Plaintiff had to exit and
reenter the shaker shack to deliver cutting samples about 40
(to 70) times each 12-hour shift. Id. Plaintiff
suggests that because none of these employees knew or
understood why the shaker shack was enclosed rather than open
like those on some vessels, there must have been some
negligence on the part of Transocean for enclosing it.
April 30, 2015, two weeks after Plaintiff claims his lumbar
problems began, he was seen by Dr. Ilyas Munshi, a
neurological surgeon. Two weeks later, on May 18, 2015, Dr.
Munshi performed a lumbar laminectomy, medial facetectomy and
invasive decompression of the spinal cord and nerve roots on
May 18, 2015. R. 80-7, Exh. 22. Plaintiff
did not return to work after his surgery and states that the
Social Security Administrations granted him disability
payments beginning November 2015. R. 80-7, Exh. 23.
Plaintiff asserts that Dr. Munshi stated in his May 11, 2017
I conclude with a reasonable degree of medical certainty that
the plaintiff's work aboard the last ship where he had to
force open an airtight door dozens of times during his work
day, for three to four week at a time caused him to become
symptomatic to the point of disabling the patient with pain