United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
the Defendant Greene's Energy Group's
(“Defendant Greene”), “Motion for Summary
Judgment” (Rec. Doc. 62), and Plaintiff's Response
(Rec. Doc. 63), IT IS ORDERED that the
Motion is GRANTED.
28, 2015, a helicopter piloted by Plaintiff Matthew Holeton
(“Plaintiff”) slid off the helideck and landed
into the Gulf of Mexico. According to Plaintiff's
Complaint, the helicopter allegedly slid off of the platform
because its surface was unusually slippery as a result of
cleaning work improperly performed and/or maintained on the
platform earlier that week. Rec. Doc. 1. Plaintiff claims
severe injuries to his back and spine, as well as his
“mind”, as a result of the above incident.
judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). A genuine issue of
material fact exists if the evidence would allow a reasonable
jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
location of the alleged incident provides that the instant
case is governed by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act
(“OCSLA”). 43 U.S.C. § 1333(a)(1). The
Supreme Court has said that:
The purpose of the Lands Act was to define a body of law
applicable to the seabed, the subsoil, and the fixed
structures ... on the outer Continental Shelf. That this law
was to be federal law of the United States, applying
state law only as federal law and then only when not
inconsistent with applicable federal law, is made clear by
the language of the Act. Rodrigue v. Aetna Cas. &
Sur. Co., 395 U.S. 352, 354, (1969)
(Emphasis added.). Further, the Fifth Circuit has provided a
test for when adjacent state law is to apply as surrogate
federal law under OCSLA: (1) the controversy must arise on a
situs covered by OCSLA (i.e. the subsoil, seabed, or
artificial structures permanently or temporarily attached
thereto); (2) Federal maritime law must not apply of its own
force; (3) the state law must not be inconsistent with
Federal law. Union Texas Petroleum Corp. v. PLT
Eng'g, Inc., 895 F.2d 1043, 1047 (5th Cir.
these conditions are met in this case. The Parties agree that
Plaintiff's alleged incident occurred on an offshore
helicopter platform off the Gulf of Mexico-a situs covered by
OCSLA. Plaintiff cited OCSLA in his Complaint, and neither
party has asserted that federal maritime law is controlling
here, and this Court agrees. Finally, applicable Louisiana
tort law is not inconsistent with federal law in this
instance. Consequently, Louisiana Civil Code Articles 2315,
2317, and 2317.1 are to apply.
Civil Code Article 2317 provides a strict liability scheme.
La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 2317; Friou v. Phillips Petroleum
Co., 948 F.2d 972, 975 (5th Cir. 1991). Thus, “the
necessary elements for the plaintiff to prove are that the
defendant had custody of the thing, that the thing had a vice
or defect, that the vice or defect created an unreasonable
risk of harm, that the defendant failed to make the thing
safe or to take adequate steps to prevent damage, and that
the vice or defect was the cause of the damage.”
Friou v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 948 F.2d 972, 975
(5th Cir. 1991).
in 1996, Article 2317.1 was enacted, essentially imposing a
negligence-based standard on an owner's duty to know of a
defect. “The owner or custodian of a thing is
answerable for damage occasioned by its ruin, vice, or
defect, only upon a showing that he knew or, in the exercise
of reasonable care, should have known of the ruin, vice, or
defect which caused the damage, that the damage could have
been prevented by the exercise of reasonable care, and that
he failed to exercise such reasonable care.” La. Civ.
Code Ann. art. 2317.1.
follows that under Louisiana law, both a claim for strict
liability and negligence require that a duty of care was
breached. “There is essentially no difference between
the two types of claim under Louisiana law.” Bd. of
Commissioners of Se. Louisiana Flood Prot. Auth.-E. v.
Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., L.L.C., 850 F.3d 714, 729
(5th Cir. 2017).
Plaintiff acknowledges and offers no evidence that Defendant
Greene exercised any care, custody, or control over the
helideck platform in controversy. See Rec. Doc. 62-3
at 4 Deposition of Plaintiff Holeton; Rec. Doc. 62-4,
Interrogatory Answers of Defendant Water Oil & Gas Corp.;
Rec. Doc. 62-5, Interrogatory Answers of Defendant Island
Operating Co.; Rec. Doc. 62-6 at pp. 2-4, Deposition of Rost;
Rec. Doc. 62-7, Deposition of Lemaire. Undisputed evidence
shows that Defendant Greene did not owe Plaintiff any duty of
care in regard to the condition(s) of the helideck.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that
Defendant's Motion for ...