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McCary v. Oceaneering International, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, First Circuit

February 27, 2018

BRAD D. McCARY
v.
OCEANEERING INTERNATIONAL, INC.

         On Appeal from the 17th Judicial District Court In and for the Parish of Lafourche State of Louisiana Trial Court No. 111, 360 Honorable John E. LeBlanc, Judge Presiding.

          S. Patrick Skiles Morgan City, LA Willard P. Schieffler Thibodaux, LA, Attorneys for Plaintiff-Appellee, Brad D. McCary.

          Michael A. McGlone Brett Fenasci New Orleans, LA, Attorneys for Defendant-Appellee, Oceaneering International, Inc.

          Edward S. Johnson Christopher L. Williams New Orleans, LA, Attorneys for Intervenors-Appellants, International Marine Services, LLC and Signal Mutual Indemnity Association, LTD.

          BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, HOLDRIDGE, AND PENZATO, JJ.

          HIGGINBOTHAM, J.

         Plaintiff, Mr. Brad McCary, was injured on a vessel owned by defendant, Oceaneering International, Inc., during the course and scope of his employment with International Marine Systems, LLC (IMS). He received benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) from IMS and its insurer, Signal Mutual Indemnity Association, LTD (Signal). IMS and Signal (Intervenors) intervened in plaintiffs suit against the alleged third-party tortfeasor, Oceaneering, seeking subrogation for expenses and benefits paid on his behalf. In response, Mr. McCary and Oceaneering filed separate motions for summary judgment seeking dismissal of Intervenors' claims based on a Mutual Indemnity and Waiver Agreement entered into by Oceaneering and IMS. Both of their motions were granted, and Intervenors appealed.

         FACTS

         In March 2008, Mr. McCary was employed by IMS as an electronics technician. At that time, IMS was providing electrical services directly for Oceaneering. On March 3, 2008, in the course and scope of his employment with IMS, Mr. McCary was working on a job aboard a vessel owned and operated by Oceaneering and docked in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, when he fell while on the stairs of the vessel. After his fall, IMS's compensation insurer, Signal, paid compensation and medical benefits to Mr. McCary on behalf of IMS under the LHWCA.

         On March 3, 2009, Mr. McCary filed suit against Oceaneering, alleging negligence on the part of Oceaneering and seeking damages for injuries he sustained as a result of the fall. On October 4, 2011, Intervenors filed a petition for intervention in Mr. McCary's suit seeking to recover the compensation and medical benefits that Intervenors paid to Mr. McCary, if there should be any recovery of damages by Mr. McCary from Oceaneering.

         After numerous motions, discovery requests, and a change of counsel, on January 18, 2017, Mr. McCary filed a motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of Interveners' claims based on a "Mutual Indemnity and Waiver Agreement" between IMS and Oceaneering executed on September 27, 2006, in which Mr. McCary contends that IMS contractually agreed to waive all claims of subrogation and/or reimbursement (the agreement). On February 3, 2017, Oceaneering also filed a motion for summary judgment seeking dismissal of Intervenors' claims for the reasons laid out in Mr. McCary's motion. Intervenors opposed both motions contending that the agreement did not apply to this case. Specifically, Intervenors argued that under paragraph (a), the agreement only applies in situations when both IMS and Oceaneering are working for some common third party but not, as in this case, when IMS was doing work directly for Oceaneering.

         The matter came before the trial court for hearing on May 3, 2017, at which time, the trial court found that under the clear language of the contract, "IMS and Oceaneering intended to modify their relationship and enter into this ... agreement to avoid disputes as to their respective property and employees." Thereafter, on May 23, 2017, the trial court signed a judgment granting both Mr. McCary and Oceaneering's motions for summary judgment and dismissing the claims of Intervenors. It is from this judgment that Intervenors appeal, contending that the trial court erred in its interpretation of the scope of the agreement.

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         After an opportunity for adequate discovery, a motion for summary judgment shall be granted if the motion, memorandum, and supporting documents show that there is no genuine issue as to material fact and that the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. La. Code Civ. P. art. 966(A)(3). The summary judgment procedure is favored and is designed to ...


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