United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
IN THE MATTER OF PARKER DRILLING OFFSHORE USA, LLC AS THE OWNER AND OWNER PRO HAC VICE OF THE M/V MR. E.J. FOR EXONERATION FROM OR LIMITATION OF LIABILITY
WHITEHURST, MAG. JUDGE
DRELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
the court is a claim for maintenance and cure brought by
plaintiff Wilbert Mays ("Mays") against Parker
Drilling Offshore, USA, LLC ("Parker Drilling"),
pursuant to the Jones Act, 49 U.S.C. §30104, and general
maritime law of the United States, 28 U.S.C. §1333.
Mayes seeks damages for injuries he sustained on November 26,
2013 while aboard a Parker Drilling crewboat, the M.R. E.J.
Mayes designates his claims as admiralty or maritime claims
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(h); thus,
jurisdiction is proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1333.
trial was held before the undersigned on March 6, 2017 to
decide issues related to quantum - fault, medical causation
and actual damages, if any - for alleged injuries arising
from an accident that occurred on November 26, 2013.
deckhand with Parker Drilling, finished his fourteen day
shift on November 26, 2013. He and several others boarded the
M.R.E.J. crewboat for transport to the Tidewater Dock. Upon
boarding, Mays sat on the first bench directly behind the
partition wall separating the benches from the captain's
seat. Sometime thereafter, Mays fell asleep.
approximately 6:20 p.m., while in transit in the Intracoastal
Waterway, the M.R. E. J. collided with a crane barge, the
MISS SUNSHINE, which was in tow by the M/V TDW. The force of the
collision threw Mays off of the bench and into the partition,
causing it to collapse.
M.R. E.J. ultimately made its way to the dock in LaRose,
Louisiana where emergency medical personnel waited to
evaluate those aboard. Mays complained of head and left knee
pain but denied any back or leg pain. Emergency personnel
performed a Glascow Coma Scale assessment on three separate
occasions to determine the level of Mays' consciousness,
and each time he scored a perfect 15/15, indicating no
consciousness impairment at the time.
was transported to Ochsner - St. Anne's Hospital
("St. Anne's") in Raceland, Louisiana for
further evaluation. He presented at St. Anne's with
complaints of pain to the left side of his face and his left
knee. He denied any loss of consciousness, and, again, scored
a 15/15 on the Glascow Coma Scale evaluation. A CT scan of
his head showed no evidence of an intracranial bleed or
facial fracture, and a CT of his neck showed mild to moderate
degenerative changes of his cervical spine. An x-ray of his
knee showed significant arthritic issues, and the x-ray of
his pelvis showed mild degenerative changes in his sacroiliac
and hip joints bilaterally.
was released from St. Anne's that evening with a
diagnosis of a contusion involving his left knee, face, scalp
and neck. He was given prescriptions for Flexeril for muscle
spasm and Tramadol for pain. Following his release, Mays
stayed overnight at the home of a friend and the following
day, drove himself home to Jonesville, Louisiana.
thereafter, Mays engaged the assistance of his attorney, who
referred Mays to Dr. Gerald Leglue, Jr., a physical medicine
and rehabilitation physician in Alexandria, Louisiana, for
evaluation. Dr. Leglue began treating Mays on December 3,
2013, for complaints of face and jaw pain, headaches,
dizziness and pain in his neck, left shoulder, lower back and
left knee. Over the course of treatment, Dr. Leglue also
referred Mays to several other physicians for evaluation and
Terry Texada, an orthopedist in Alexandria, Louisiana, began
treating Mays on December 9, 2013, for the injuries to his
left knee. Dr. Texada reviewed the x-ray taken on the date of
the accident and conducted a physical exam. Dr. Texada found
Mays suffered from preexisting degenerative joint disease,
questionable meniscal pathology, and a possible ligament
injury. He drained serous fluid from Mays' knee and
referred him for an MRI.
MRI, conducted on December 12, 2013, confirmed the
degenerative joint disease and a torn meniscus. Dr. Texada
performed arthroscopic surgery on January 20, 2014, to
address the torn meniscus and as much of the degenerative
changes as he could. He continued to treat Mays
post-operatively through April 21, 2014, at which time he
advised Mays there was nothing more he could do to address
the existing degenerative changes to his knee.
George Williams, an orthopedic surgeon in Opelousas,
Louisiana, began treating Mays on March 18, 2014, for lumbar
and cervical spine pain resulting from pre-existing moderate
to severe degenerative disc disease and stenosis. In addition
to degenerative disc disease, Dr. Williams diagnosed Mays
with a herniated nucleus pulposus at C5-C6, radiculopathy,
spondylosis in his cervical spine as well as pain and
spondylosis in his lumbar spine and he ultimately recommended
a cervical discectomy and fusion based primarily upon
Mays' complaints of pain.
continued to see Dr. Williams off and on through February
2017. As of September 2016, Mays reported pain in his lumbar
spine when lying down but he did not report any more cervical
pain once he began receiving injections. Records from that
September 2016 visit and his follow up visit in January 2017
reveal Mays walked with a normal heel toe gait but he
continued to complain of lumbar pain at rest. However, he
made no complaints of cervical pain until he returned in
much of this same time period, Mays also sought the advice of
Dr. Mortenza Shamsnia, a neurologist in Metairie, Louisiana.
Mays' initial appointment with Dr. Shamsnia was in May
2014. Based upon a physical exam conducted on the first day,
Dr. Shamsnia diagnosed Mays with "posttraumatic
headaches, memory loss, neck pain and low back pain, and
dizziness." Though Dr. Shamsnia "need[ed] to review
[Mays'] medical records in detail", he never
obtained any medical records from the date of the accident
nor prior imaging records, with the exception of an April
2014, MRI of Mays' lumbar spine. Nevertheless, Dr.
Shamsnia diagnosed Mays with a "postconcussion syndrome
with memory loss and attention deficit."
December 14, 2016, over three years after the accident, Mays
underwent a high resolution MRI of his brain. From that, Dr.
Shamsnia opined Mays suffered a traumatic head injury on the
date of the accident as evidenced by brain atrophy from a
prior hemorrhage in the left caudate nucleus of the brain.
Dr. Shamsnia further opined that this injury was consistent
with Mays having experienced persistent headaches, memory
loss, and mood changes and his prognosis was quite poor as
the symptoms would likely worsen over time and ultimately
result in early onset dementia and impaired cognitive
Shamsnia's records further reveal he treated Mays for
insomnia, anxiety, and depression following initial
psychological treatment rendered by James Quillen, Ph.D., a
clinical psychologist in Alexandria, Louisiana. Treatment
records from Dr. Quillen indicate he treated Mays throughout
most of 2015 for post-traumatic stress disorder with
depressive features, possible mild post concussive features
by history, dysfunctional pain adjustment with secondary
adaptive features, and intermittent explosive symptomology.
During his visits, Mays consistently complained about being
depressed but reported his nightmares and explosive outburst
were managed by the medications prescribed by Dr. Quillen.
trial, Mays again reported changes in his mood and that he
experienced nightmares he attributed to the accident. He
complained of chronic cervical and lumbar pain, carpal tunnel
syndrome, permanent and persistent pain in his left knee that
restricted his mobility, and a serious, permanent brain
injury which resulted in headaches and memory loss that he
was told would progress over time.
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Maintenance and Cure
and cure is a contractual form of compensation afforded by
the general maritime law to seaman who fall ill or are
injured while in the service of a vessel." Jauch v.
Nautical Servs., Inc., 470 F.3d 207, 212 (5th
Cir.2006) citing McCorpen v. Cent. Gulf. S.S. Corp.,
396 F.2d 547, 548 (5th Cir. 1968). An employer has
an obligation to provide maintenance and cure when a seaman
is injured on a vessel regardless of fault. There is no
dispute that Mays is a seaman and entitled to maintenance and
cure. The issue before the court is whether he is owed any
additional amounts and, if so, whether Parker Drilling
willfully failed to pay those amounts.