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Castille v. Apache Deepwater LLC

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division

March 19, 2018

Castille et al
v.
Apache Deepwater LLC et al.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          CAROL B. WHITEHURST UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         By Consent of the Parties

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs, Rory L. Castille and Natasha Castille's, Brief In Support Of Declaratory Judgment [Rec. Doc. 286] and Memoranda in support of Rule 12(c) Motion For Judgment On The Pleadings Regarding Waiver Of Subrogation filed by Total Safety U.S., Inc. [Rec. Doc. 287] and Zurich American Insurance Company [Rec. Doc. 293]. For the following reasons, the Court will GRANT Plaintiffs' Declaratory Judgment.

         I. Background

         This action arises out of an accident on October 13, 2012, in which Rory Castille (hereinafter “Castille”) sustained personal injuries and damages while working on Apache's West Cameron 111-F unmanned satellite production platform (“WC 111-F”), on the Outer Continental Shelf. At the time of the accident, Castille was employed by Total Safety U.S., Inc. (“Total Safety”) as a technician for navigational aids and fire-fighting equipment. Castille alleges he was injured when, after opening the door to the wellhead master control panel (“MCP”) on WC 111-F, he was engulfed by a flash fire. R. 1. It is undisputed that Louisiana law applies to this case.

         On November 14, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a Rule 19 Motion To Compel Zurich and Total Safety U.S. Inc. As Required Joinder Of Parties And Alternative Memorandum In Support of Declaratory Judgment Under 28 USC § 2201. R. 266. Plaintiffs contended that, “on information and belief, ” Zurich and Total Safety “may jointly or separately be seeking certain rights of subrogation for potential reimbursement of workers' compensation benefits paid” to Rory L. Castille. Id. Sole Defendant, Apache Deepwater, LLC (“Apache”), filed a Memorandum In Response stating that it had no objection to a declaratory action as between Zurich, Total Safety and the Plaintiffs with respect to the compensation intervention, and whether those subrogation rights have been waived by Total Safety and/or Zurich. R. 272.

         On January 31, 2018, the Court construed Plaintiffs' motion as one to amend its Complaint and add a Declaratory Judgment action against Total Safety and Zurich. The Court granted the motion and ordered that they amend their Complaint to assert such action. The Amended Complaint was filed on February 6, 2018. Total Safety and Zurich answered the complaint on February 21, 2018. On the same date, the parties filed the memoranda before the Court as to whether or not Total Safety and/or Zurich contractually waived their rights of subrogation of their claims for reimbursement of workers' compensation benefits paid to Castille.

         II. Contentions of the Parties

         Plaintiffs contend that Total Safety accepted full indemnification within the indemnity clause in the Master Service Contract (“MSC”) between it and Apache. R. 285-1. Plaintiffs further contend that, as required by the MSC, Total Safety and Zurich, Total Safety's insurer, were bound through a Waiver of Subrogation Clause wherein they waived any rights to seek subrogation or reimbursement for all insurance coverage including worker's compensation payments made to injured employees such as Castille. Id., Exh. A, ¶ 8. Plaintiffs seek a declaration that Zurich and Total Safety are bound by the terms of the MSC, including honoring their waiver of subrogation rights, and are not entitled to enforce a lien on any proposed settlement or judgment that Plaintiffs may enter into.

         Total Safety and Zurich argue that the LOAIA, Section G, applies to the waiver of subrogation rights in the MSC executed by Total Safety and Zurich. They contend that Section G of the LOAIA prevents Total Safety from being held liable in tort, as the indemnitor of Apache, and also under the LHWCA, by paying worker's compensation benefits to Castille. Total Safety and Zurich further contend, in the alternative, that even if the Court holds that Section G of the LOAIA does not apply and there is no impediment to the waiver of subrogation, the MSC itself provides that the waiver is ineffective as to the claim. R. 287-2, Exh. A, ¶ 12.

         III. Legal Standard

         In their memoranda, the parties request declaratory relief in the form of a legal conclusion by the Court on the issue of the waiver of subrogation as it relates to the Louisiana Oilfield Anti-Indemnity Act (“LOAIA”). Total Safety styles its memorandum as a Motion For Judgment On The Pleadings and Zurich adopts Total Safety's motion. R. 287, 293. The Court will accordingly consider this requested relief in the context of judgment on the pleadings in a declaratory judgment action. See, e.g., Caliste v. Cantrell, 2017 WL 6344152, at *2 (E.D.La., 2017)(applying Judgment on the Pleadings standard of review in declaratory judgment action involving interpretation of CGL insurance policy).

         A party may move for judgment on the pleadings after the pleadings are closed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). The purpose of Rule 12(c) is to dispose of cases where the material facts are not in dispute and a judgment on the merits can be rendered by looking to the substance of the pleadings and any judicially noticed facts. Great Plains Trust. Co. v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., 313 F.3d 305, 312 (5th Cir. 2002). In deciding a 12(c) motion, the Court “accepts all well-pleaded facts as true, viewing them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.” In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007). To avoid dismissal, a plaintiff must plead “enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate where there are no disputed issues of material fact and only questions of law remain. Stewart v. Grand Isle Shipyard, Inc., 2011 WL 6778804, at *1-2 (E.D. La. Dec. 23, 2011). As a general rule, in considering a Rule 12(c) motion, a district court must limit itself to the facts stated in the complaint. Hughes v. Tobacco Inst., Inc., 278 F.3d 417, 420 (5th Cir. 2001). The Fifth Circuit has made exceptions to this limitation. See Herbert Abstract Co. v. Touchstone Props., Ltd., 914 F.2d 74, 76 (5th Cir. 1990) (holding that a district court may look to the substance of the pleadings and any judicially noticed facts); see also Voest-Alpine Trading USA Corp. v. Bank of China, 142 F.3d 887 (5th Cir. 1998) (holding that the district court could consider documents attached to the complaint); Great Plains Trust Co. v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., 313 F.3d 305, 310 (5th Cir. 2002)(affirming district court's Rule 12(c) dismissal where the court considered documents that were referred to in the complaint even though they were not physically attached to the complaint). Nonetheless, granting a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings “is appropriate only if material facts are not in dispute and questions of law are all that remain.” Voest-Alpine Trading USA Corp. v. Bank of China, 142 F.3d 887, 891 (5th Cir. 1998).

         IV. ...


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