United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRTCT JUDGE
the Court is a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
Regarding Punitive Damages (Rec. Doc. 106) filed by
Defendants: Hiscox Dedicated Corporate Member Limited and
Catlin Syndicate Limited Subscribing to Covernote
NO4MM-34-1049-03, and Chubb Syndicate 1882 (hereinafter
collectively referred to as “Defendants”).
Plaintiff Kenneth Roberts (“Roberts”) opposes
this motion (Rec. Doc. 110) and Defendants have replied.
(Rec. Doc. 113). The motion, set for submission on November
29, 2017, is before the Court on the briefs without oral
argument.This matter is set as a jury trial
beginning on May 14, 2018 at 8:30 a.m. Having considered the
motion and memoranda of counsel, the record, and the
applicable law, the Court finds that the Defendants'
motion should be GRANTED for the reasons set
bring this motion contending that Roberts's punitive
damages claims must be dismissed in accordance with the
Defendants' respective insurance policies. (Rec. Doc.
106). In his Complaint, Roberts asserts claims for negligence
under the Jones Act (46 U.S.C. § 30104) and under
general maritime law, as well as claims for unseaworthiness
and maintenance and cure. (Rec. Doc. 1). Roberts additionally
asserts claims seeking punitive damages based on the general
maritime law. Id. at p. 4, ¶ XI. According to
his Complaint, Roberts's punitive damages claim
“relates not only to any arbitrary and/or unreasonable
failure of defendant to pay maintenance and cure benefits but
also for any gross negligence of the defendant, or
unseaworthiness of the vessel as may be allowed under General
Maritime Law.” Id.
matter arises from a maritime personal injury action. Roberts
contends that on November 22, 2013 he experienced an accident
resulting in serious injuries while employed by Inland
Salvage, Inc. (“Inland Salvage”). (Rec. Doc. 1,
p. 2, ¶ 5). On August 22, 2014, Roberts filed a
Seaman's Complaint for Damages against Inland Salvage.
(Rec. Doc. 1). However, Inland Salvage filed for Chapter 11
Bankruptcy prior to Roberts filing his Complaint. (Rec. Doc.
19-1, p. 1). Roberts was then precluded from maintaining an
action against Inland Salvage due to the automatic stay on
actions against Inland Salvage during bankruptcy
proceedings. (Rec. Doc. 13, pp. 1-2).
on June 10, 2016, Roberts filed a First Supplemental and
Amended Complaint, directly naming the following entities as
defendants: American Equity Underwriters, Inc.; Castlepoint
National Insurance Company; and Underwriters at Lloyd's,
London Chubb Syndicate 1882 (“Chubb”). (Rec. Doc.
21, pp. 1-2, ¶¶ 13-15). Roberts did so in
accordance with Louisiana's Direct Action Statute (La.
R.S. § 22:1269), which allows him to maintain this
action directly against the insurer-defendants. Id.
at pp. 1-2, ¶¶ 17-18. Roberts again amended his
complaint to add Hiscox Dedicated Corporate Member Limited
and Catlin Syndicate Limited Subscribing to Covernote
NO4MM-34-1049-03 as direct defendants (hereinafter referred
to as “Hiscox”). (Rec. Doc. 93). Defendants
Hiscox and Chubb bring the instant motion for partial summary
judgment is appropriate only if “the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, ” when
viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant,
“show that there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact.” TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James, 276
F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 447 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)). A dispute
about a material fact is “genuine” if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the non-moving party. Id. (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). The court must draw all
justifiable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).
the moving party has initially shown “that there is an
absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's
cause, ” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 325 (1986), the non-movant must come forward with
“specific facts” showing a genuine factual issue
for trial. Id. (citing Fed. R. Civ. P.
56(e); Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). Conclusional allegations and
denials, speculation, improbable inferences, unsubstantiated
assertions, and legalistic argumentation do not adequately
substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for
trial. Id. (citing SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d
1093, 1097 (1993)).
Law and Analysis
bring the instant motion seeking to dismiss Plaintiff's
claims for punitive damages on the grounds that neither of
Defendants' insurance agreements with Inland Salvage
provide coverage for punitive damages. On the other hand,
Plaintiff argues that the language of the agreements does not
specifically preclude Defendants from being assessed punitive
Hiscox provided primary coverage to Inland Salvage and
Defendant Chubb provided excess coverage. Hiscox issued its
Covernote NO4MM-34-1049-03 (the “Covernote”) to
Inland Salvage providing Primary Maritime Employers'
Liability Insurance for the period of April 18, 2013 to April
18, 2014. (Rec. Doc. 95-1, p. 2). The second policy at issue
is the Slip (the “Chubb Slip”) issued by
Defendant Chubb Syndicate 1882 to Inland Salvage. The Chubb
Slip provided Excess Marine Employers' Liability coverage
to Inland Salvage from July 26, 2013 to July 26, 2014. (Rec.
Doc. 106-2, Ex. A). The Chubb Slip provides 50% of excess
liability coverage above the underlying primary insurance
contract-in this case, the Hiscox Covernote.
analyzing the instant motion, the most noteworthy feature of
the Chubb Slip is that the scope of its coverage mirrors that
of the Covernote's scope of coverage. Under Section B of
the Chubb Slip, the following conditions apply:
All terms, clauses and conditions as per Underlying Insurance
Contract NO4MM-34-1049-03 and to follow in all respects. . .
(Rec. Doc. 106-2, Ex. A, p. 2). Thus, the issue of whether
the Chubb Slip provides excess coverage for punitive damages
will directly depend on this Court's determination of
whether Hiscox's Covernote provides primary coverage for
punitive damages. As a result, the Court's analysis of