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Batiste v. Quality Construction & Production LLC

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

March 28, 2018

DONALD BATISTE
v.
QUALITY CONSTRUCTION & PRODUCTION LLC, ET AL.

          BY CONSENT OF THE PARTIES

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          PATRICK J. HANNA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Currently pending is defendant Arena Energy, LP's motion for summary judgment. (Rec. Doc. 113). The motion is unopposed. Considering the evidence, the law, and the arguments of the parties, and for the reasons fully explained below, this Court grants Arena's motion and dismisses the plaintiff's claim against Arena with prejudice.

         Background

          In October 2013, the plaintiff, Donald Batiste, was employed by defendant Quality Construction and Production, LLC as a rigger. He and his crew were working on a construction project on an offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico that was owned and operated by defendant Arena Energy, LP. Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Company (“H&P”) was conducting drilling operations on the platform pursuant to a separate contract with Arena. The plaintiff claims that he was injured on October 26, 2013 while standing on the deck of a vessel engaged in the task of backloading the vessel from the platform. He contends that he gave an “all stop” signal that was ignored by the H&P crane operator and that the crane operator proceeded to set a material basket down on a pipe that was laying on the vessel's deck. In his complaint, the plaintiff alleged that he was injured when the basket's contact with the pipe caused him to be flung into the side of the basket and also caused the pipe to rise up into the air and strike him in the head.

         The plaintiff asserted negligence claims against several defendants, including Arena. In support of its motion, Arena argued that it is entitled to summary judgment in its favor because it had no employees on the platform at the time of the incident and, had no control over the work that was being conducted by its independent contractors, and was not independently negligent.

         Analysis

         A. The Summary Judgment Standard

          Under Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A fact is material if proof of its existence or nonexistence might affect the outcome of the lawsuit under the applicable governing law.[1] A genuine issue of material fact exists if a reasonable jury could render a verdict for the nonmoving party.[2]

         The party seeking summary judgment has the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for its motion and identifying those parts of the record that demonstrate the absence of genuine issues of material fact.[3] If the moving party carries its initial burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue of a material fact.[4] All facts and inferences are construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.[5]

         If the dispositive issue is one on which the nonmoving party will bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may satisfy its burden by pointing out that there is insufficient proof concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's claim.[6] The motion should be granted if the nonmoving party cannot produce evidence to support an essential element of its claim.[7]

         B. Louisiana Law governs the claims against Arena

         As explained in a previous ruling (Rec. Doc. 124 at 8-12), jurisdiction in this case is premised on the jurisdictional provision of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”), and the law of Louisiana, the adjacent state, governs the plaintiff's claims against Arena.

         C. There is no evidence that Arena Exercised Operational Control over the Independent Contractors nor ...


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