United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
TIMOTHY B. SPISAK
APACHE CORPORATION, ET AL.
PATRICK J. HANNA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
pending is the plaintiff's Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss defendant Stella Maris, LLC's claim for
attorneys' fees and costs. (Rec. Doc. 149. The motion is
opposed. (Rec. Doc. 154). Considering the evidence, the law,
and the arguments of the parties, and for the reasons fully
explained below, the motion is denied.
case arises out of an incident that allegedly occurred in May
2015 aboard a fixed platform known as Devil's Tower,
which is located on the outer continental shelf off the coast
of Louisiana. Williams Field Services, LLC was the owner of
the platform, and Eni U.S. Operating Co. Inc. was the
operator of the platform at all relevant times. Apache
Corporation was the owner of the Bass Light well that was
tied into Devil's Tower by pipeline. Apache hired
Greene's to flush out the pipeline in preparation for its
well to be plugged and abandoned. Greene's sent a crew of
men, including the plaintiff, to Devil's Tower to perform
the flushing operation. Under its contract with Apache,
Stella Maris assigned Brian Ray to work as Apache's
“company man” on that job. The plaintiff claims
that he was injured during the rigging down operation when he
and another member of the Greene's crew were carrying a
ten-foot-long section of chicksan pipe.
Contentions of the Parties
plaintiff sued Stella Maris and others, seeking to recover
for his alleged injuries. In its first amended answer to the
plaintiff's complaints (Rec. Doc. 148), Stella Maris
asserted its Eighteenth Defense, alleging that surveillance
video evidence shows the plaintiff's claim to be
fraudulent. In articulating that defense, Stella Maris
alleged that the plaintiff made false representations or
omissions of material fact that were relied upon by doctors
and parties to the litigation, resulting in Stella Maris
incurring attorneys' fees and expenses to defend against
the plaintiff's claims.
plaintiff interpreted Stella Maris's fraud defense as a
claim for attorneys' fees and costs, and in the pending
motion, seeks to have that claim dismissed.
Maris opposed the motion, arguing that a Rule 12(b)(6) motion
to dismiss is the incorrect procedural device for striking an
affirmative defense, that the plaintiff set forth no factual
or legal basis for striking the affirmative defense, and that
Stella Maris did not assert a claim against the plaintiff for
attorneys' fees and costs.
The Standard for Analyzing a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to
motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) is appropriate when a defendant (or a
defendant-in-counter-claim) attacks a pleading because it
fails to state a legally cognizable claim. When considering
such a motion, a district court must limit itself to the
contents of the pleadings, including any attachments
thereto. The court must accept all well-pleaded
facts as true, and it must view them in the light most
favorable to the claimant. However, conclusory allegations and
unwarranted deductions of fact are not accepted as true,
courts “are not bound to accept as true a legal
conclusion couched as a factual
allegation.”To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the
claimant must plead “enough facts to state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.” Therefore, a
claim must contain enough factual detail to raise a
reasonable hope or expectation that discovery will reveal
relevant evidence of each element of the claim.
Stella Maris did not Assert a Claim Against the
12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is the appropriate vehicle for
seeking to have a claim dismissed when the court cannot grant
the requested relief, but a Rule 12(b)(6) motion is not the
proper vehicle for seeking to strike an affirmative defense.
A Rule 12(b)(6) motion requires, as a threshold matter, that
the non-moving party asserted a claim against the moving
party. That, however, is not the case here. In its Eighteenth
Defense, Stella Maris asserted an affirmative fraud defense
but did not assert a claim against the plaintiff. Although
Stella Maris mentioned that it had incurred attorneys'
fees and expenses in defending against the claim asserted by
the plaintiff against it, Stella Maris did not articulate a
counter-claim against the plaintiff. Accordingly, the
plaintiff's Rule 12(b)(6) motion lacks merit and must be
The Standard for Analyzing a Rule 12(f) ...