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Dauphine v. Rec Marine Logistics, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 27, 2018

GILBERT DAUPHINE, JR.
v.
REC MARINE LOGISTICS, LLC, ET AL.

         SECTION "B"(1)

          ORDER AND REASONS

         There are five motions for summary judgment before the Court. Defendants and Cross Claimants Shamrock[1], Energy XXI[2], and Wood Group[3] moved for summary judgment on their cross claims against REC Marine Logistics, LLC for defense, indemnity, and insurance coverage. Rec. Docs. 72, 74, 85. Defendant and Cross Defendant REC Marine timely filed an opposition. Rec. Doc. 91. Defendants and Cross Claimants Shamrock, Energy XXI, and Wood Group jointly sought, and were granted, leave to file a reply. Rec. Doc. 99.

         Defendant and Cross Defendant REC Marine filed a cross motion for summary judgment on Shamrock's, Energy XXI's, and Wood Group's cross claims for defense, indemnity, and insurance coverage. Rec. Doc. 84. Defendants and Cross Claimants Shamrock, Energy XXI, and Wood Group jointly filed an opposition. Rec. Doc. 92. Defendant and Cross Defendant REC Marine sought, and was granted, leave to file a reply. Rec. Doc. 101.

         Plaintiff Gilbert Dauphine filed a motion for summary judgment on the questions of whether he is a seaman entitled to maintenance and cure from Defendant and Cross Defendant REC Marine. Rec. Doc. 95. Defendant and Cross Defendant REC Marine timely filed an opposition. Rec. Doc. 109. Plaintiff sought, and was granted, leave to file a reply. Rec. Doc. 114.

         For the reasons discussed below, IT IS ORDERED that the motions for summary judgment filed by Defendants and Cross Claimants Shamrock, Energy XXI, and Wood Group (Rec. Docs. 72, 74, 85) are GRANTED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant and Cross Defendant REC Marine (Rec. Doc. 84) is DENIED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment (Rec. Doc. 95) is GRANTED with respect to Plaintiff's status as a seaman and DENIED with respect to Plaintiff's demand for cure.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On May 15, 2010, Energy XXI Services, LLC and REC Marine Logistics, LLC entered into a Master Time Charter agreement (MTC). See Rec. Doc. 84-4. The MTC governs how the Charterer (Energy XXI Services, LLC) can charter a vessel from the Owner (REC Marine Logistics, LLC). See Id. at 3. The Charterer is first supposed to request a vessel from the Owner, in which case the Owner is then supposed to send a Vessel Charter letter to the Charterer with the terms of the Charter. See Id. at 3. The sample Vessel Charter letter, attached as a schedule to the MTC, contains a clause incorporating the MTC. See Id. at 18. Every Vessel Charter is supposed to be “substantially identical” to the sample. See Id. at 3. Unless the Charterer cancels the Vessel Charter, it is effective upon receipt by the Charterer. See Id. at 3. Even if no Vessel Charter is exchanged, the MTC applies when the Owner delivers a vessel to the Charterer. See Id. at 3.

         The MTC includes an integration clause stating that the MTC and any Vessel Charters “contain[] the entire agreement of Owner and Charterer.” Id. at 15. When there is a conflict between the MTC and a Vessel Charter, “the provisions in the body of [the MTC] shall prevail.” Id. No amendments are allowed “except in writing signed by authorized representatives of both Owner and Charterer.” Id. While the Charterer can “subcharter or assign” the MTC “and/or any Vessel Charter[, ]” the Owner must get the “written consent of [the] Charterer” before transferring any of its “rights and obligations under th[e]” MTC. Id. at 13.

         The MTC also establishes the duties of the Charterer and Owner when a vessel is chartered. Two are especially important for the instant litigation. First, the MTC includes reciprocal defense and indemnity provisions for the Owner and Charterer. See Id. at 6-11. When applicable, the Owner's defense and indemnity obligations extend to the Charterer's affiliates, parent entities, and contractors. See Id. at 6-9. Second, the MTC requires the Owner to name, inter alia, the Charterer, its affiliates, parent entities, and contractors as additional insureds on its insurance policies. See Id. at 6-7.

         On May 2, 2015, REC Marine sent a one-page document titled “Charter Agreement” to Bubba Richard, an Energy XXI Services, LLC employee. See Rec. Doc. 84-7. The Charter Agreement provides for an open-ended charter of the M/V EMILY D to Energy XXI (the Charter Agreement does not specify a subsidiary). Id. Bubba Richard, an Energy XXI Services, LLC employee, signed the Charter Agreement. Id. The Charter Agreement specifies a daily rate for the charter and provides instructions for where the EMILY D was to report, but neither incorporates the MTC nor includes its own defense and indemnity terms. See Id. Neither the MTC nor the Charter Agreement were terminated before Plaintiff's accident occurred. See Rec. Doc. 74-10 at 10, 20. REC Marine billed Energy XXI, not a specific subsidiary, for the charter of the EMILY D. See, e.g., Rec. Docs. 74-6 at 7; 74-13 at 7. The invoice was sent to the address for Energy XXI Services, LLC that is listed on the first page of the MTC. See Id. Energy XXI Gulf Coast Inc. paid REC Marine's invoices. See Rec. Doc. 74-6 at 13.

         The accident at the heart of the instant lawsuit occurred on October 9, 2015. At that time, Plaintiff Gilbert Dauphine was employed by REC Marine Logistics, LLC as a deckhand on the M/V EMILY D, a vessel owned by REC Marine. Rec. Doc. 1 ¶ 6. When the accident occurred, Plaintiff was working on the EMILY D in the Gulf of Mexico as it serviced production platform South Pass 57-B, which is owned and operated by Energy XXI GOM, LLC. Id. ¶ 8; Rec. Doc. 74-14 ¶ 4. While the EMILY D was servicing the South Pass 57-B platform, a personnel basket was lowered or dropped onto Plaintiff from a crane on the platform. Id. ¶ 8. As a result, Plaintiff suffered physical and mental injuries that allegedly limit his current and future employment opportunities. Id. ¶¶ 14-17. Plaintiff further alleges that, as a result of these injuries, he currently needs back and knee surgery. See Rec. Doc. 95.

         On October 7, 2016, Plaintiff brought suit against REC Marine and three Energy XXI entities (Energy XXI USA, Inc., Energy XXI Gulf Coast, Inc., and Energy XXI, Ltd.). Rec. Doc. 1. Plaintiff subsequently amended his complaint to add as defendants additional Energy XXI entities (Energy XXI GOM, LLC and Energy XXI Services, LLC) and some of Energy XXI's contractors (Shamrock Management, LLC, Wood Group PSN, Inc., and Wood Group Production Services, Inc.). Rec. Docs. 16, 107. Plaintiff brought negligence and unseaworthiness claims against REC Marine under the Jones Act and General Maritime law, seeking damages as well as maintenance and cure. Rec. Doc. 1 ¶¶ 13-20. Plaintiff brought negligence claims against Energy XXI, Shamrock, and Wood Group under General Maritime Law, seeking damages for his injuries. Rec. Docs. 1 ¶¶ 12, 14-20; 16 ¶¶ IV-V; 107 ¶¶ IV-V.

         Citing the MTC, Energy XXI, Shamrock, and Wood Group each filed a cross claim for defense, indemnity, and insurance coverage against REC Marine. Rec. Docs. 40, 46, 50. Also, Energy XXI and Shamrock each filed a third party complaint against American Steamship Mutual Indemnity and Protection Association on the basis that the MTC ...


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