United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
AARON M. PITTMAN
KBRWYLE TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS, LLC
ORDER AND REASONS
the Court is Defendant Kbrwyle Technology Solutions'
(“Defendant”) ”Motion for Summary
Judgment” (Rec. Doc. 16), Plaintiff Aaron Pittman's
(“Plaintiff”) Response (Rec. Doc. 25), and
Defendant's Reply (Rec. Doc. 34). For the reasons
discussed below, IT IS ORDERED that the
Motion for Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 16) is
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
case arises from an alleged incident that occurred on
February 12, 2016, aboard the USNS PFC Dewayne T. Williams
(“The Williams”). Rec. Doc. 16-3. At the
time of the alleged incident, Plaintiff was working aboard
The Williams as an ordinance mechanic. Id.
Plaintiff sustained injury to his left shoulder while moving
tank batteries between decks. Plaintiff further alleges that
he sustained injury to his right shoulder during the same
February 12, 2016, incident. Rec. Doc. 25-1. Plaintiff
further claims that Defendant acted negligently in relation
to such incident.
initial complaint to Defendant and his healthcare providers
was with regard to pain in his left shoulder. Rec. Docs. 16-3
and 25-1. Immediately after the incident, Plaintiff informed
his supervisor of the incident via email correspondence
(“the email”). Rec. Doc. 16-1 at 2. Plaintiff
made no mention of his right shoulder in that email. See
“Exhibit B” Rec. Doc. 16-2, at 35. Shortly after
sending said email, Plaintiff was brought ashore to Saipan
where he received treatment in the emergency room at the
Commonwealth Health Center. Rec. Doc. 16-2, at 36-39. Similar
to the email, Plaintiff informed ER providers on February
12th that he felt “shooting pain” from his left
shoulder down his arm. Id. He underwent an x-ray on
his left arm, which revealed no fractures or dislocations,
was diagnosed with a left shoulder strain and given a sling.
Id. Pittman returned to work on February 15, 2016,
and after preparing an incident report, he returned to his
regular duties. Rec. Docs. 16-3 and 25-1.
of 2016, Pittman reported “right shoulder pain for past
two (2) weeks” to psychiatrist, Dr. Norma Ada. Rec.
Doc. 25-4. Dr. Ada's notes provide that Plaintiff related
the right shoulder pain to the February 12, 2016, incident,
where he was pulling a heavy load using a pulley system and
the load suddenly jerked. Id. Eventually, the pain
in Plaintiff's right shoulder became so severe he was
unable to continue his regular duties aboard The Williams. On
October 4, 2016, Dr. Elliot Nipper performed an arthroscopic
labral repair surgery on Plaintiff's right shoulder. Rec.
Doc. 16-3. On December 7, 2016, Dr. Nipper released Plaintiff
back to work with no restrictions. Rec. Doc. 25-1 at 10.
contends that Plaintiff lacks requisite medical testimony to
meet his burden of establishing the causal link between his
right shoulder injury and the February 12, 2016 incident.
Rec. Doc. 16.
argues that he has met his burden of proof for causation
under the Jones Act. Rec. Doc. 25.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
judgment is proper “if the pleadings, the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that
there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). When considering a motion for summary
judgment, the court should view all facts and evidence in the
light most favorable to the non-moving party. United Fire
& Cas. Co. v. Hixson Bros. Inc., 453 F.3d 283, 285
(5th Cir. 2006). Mere conclusory allegations are insufficient
to defeat summary judgment. Eason v. Thaler, 73 F.3d
1322, 1325 (5th Cir. 1996).
46 U.S.C.A. § 688 (the “Jones Act”), a
seaman's employer is liable for damages if the
employer's negligence caused the seaman's injury. See
Gautreaux v. Scurlock Marine, Inc., 107 F.3d 331,
335 (5th Cir.1997). A seaman may prevail in a Jones Act
action if he shows that “employer negligence played any
part, even the slightest, in producing the injury ... for
which damages are sought.” Id. at 335. In a
Jones Act case the burden of the plaintiff to prove causation
is “very light.” Martin v. John W. Stone Oil
Distrib., Inc., 819 F.2d 547, 548 (5th Cir. 1987). The
jury is entitled to make permissible inferences from
unexplained events. Id.
while there is a four (4) month gap in the medical testimony
between the date of the alleged incident and Plaintiff's
report of injury to his right shoulder, that gap is not
sufficient to dismiss Plaintiff's claims under the
Jones' Act's burden for causation. Under the Jones
Act it is sufficient to establish a jury question by simply
showing some negligence on the part of the employer coupled
by direct or circumstantial evidence ...