United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
L. C. FELDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Alliance Marine Services, LP's motion to
clarify or amend scheduling order. For the reasons that
follow, the motion is GRANTED.
lawsuit arises from a seaman's claim that he injured his
lower back during a rescue drill operation.
alleged injury happened while Gary Youman was employed by
Alliance Marine Services, LP as a Jones Act seaman aboard a
vessel owned and operated by SBM Stones Operations, LLC.
Youman first sued AMS and SBM alleging Jones Act and general
maritime law claims in this Court on October 20, 2016. Four
days later, he dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice.
Youman then sued the same defendants in state court in Baton
Rouge; when SBM prevailed on its motion to dismiss for
improper venue, Youman moved to stay the state court action
due to the possibility of incomplete relief in the state
court proceeding. The stay was granted.
AMS filed this lawsuit in this Court, seeking a declaration
that AMS is not liable for Youman's accident and does not
owe Youman maintenance and cure. Youman answered,
counter-claimed (alleging Jones Act negligence and
maintenance and cure claims), and then filed a third-party
complaint against SBM (alleging the same maritime claims he
previously advanced). On November 30, 2017, the Court issued
a scheduling order, selecting July 23, 2018 for the pretrial
conference and August 13, 2018 for the jury trial date. The
scheduling order requires the plaintiff to submit to
defendant written expert reports 91 days prior to the
pretrial conference, and requires the defendant to provide
the plaintiff written expert reports 63 days prior to the
moves to amend the scheduling order; although it is the
declaratory judgment action plaintiff, AMS requests that it
be considered a “defendant” and Youman the
“plaintiff” for the purposes of the scheduling
order's deadlines for exchanging expert reports.
moves the Court to amend the scheduling order's expert
report deadlines so that AMS and SBM may jointly submit
defense expert reports in response to any expert reports
Youman offers. In other words, AMS seeks to revert the expert
exchange deadlines to reflect the posture of Youman's
prior lawsuits and the fact that Youman alone seeks money
damages from AMS and SBM. Requiring Youman to submit his
expert report first, as if he is the plaintiff, AMS contends,
comports with the substantive reality of this lawsuit in
which Youman is the only party seeking money damages for
personal injuries he says were caused by AMS and SBM.
Moreover, AMS contends, it and SBM will jointly retain
certain experts related to Youman's damages, including an
IME physician and economist, but they will only offer a
vocational rehabilitation expert and life care planner, if
necessary, to rebut whatever experts Youman proffers.
Finally, the present procedural posture of this declaratory
case calls for different expert submission deadlines for AMS
and SBM, despite their joint defense plan regarding expert
reports and despite the fact that both are defending money
damage claims by Youman; altering the scheduling order would
align their deadlines for expert reports, which will be
jointly submitted to defend Youman's substantive claims.
the circumstances, the Court is persuaded that good cause
exists to amend the scheduling order to direct that Youman
shall submit any expert reports by the plaintiff's
deadline, and AMS and SBM shall submit any expert reports by
the defendant's deadline. AMS offers reasonable grounds
for the minor change to the scheduling order, and no party
will be prejudiced by the change, which essentially restores
expert exchange deadlines to the status quo in Jones Act
cases. Youman's arguments advanced in
opposition to the change elevate form over substance; in
fact, he offers no substantive reason, nor any suggestion of
prejudice, that would undermine AMS's arguments in favor
of altering the scheduling order in this limited fashion.
IT IS ORDERED: that AMS's motion to amend the scheduling
order is hereby GRANTED. The scheduling order is amended to
direct that Youman must submit to AMS/SBM any expert reports
by the “plaintiff's” deadline (91 days prior
to the pretrial conference), and AMS/SBM must submit to
Youman any expert reports by “defendant's”
deadline (63 days prior to the pretrial conference).