United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
Regarding Unseaworthiness (Rec. Doc. 122) filed by
Defendants: Hiscox Dedicated Corporate Member Limited and
Catlin Syndicate Limited Subscribing to Covernote
NO4MM-34-1049-03, and Chubb Syndicate 1882 (hereinafter
collectively referred to as “Defendants”).
Defendants also filed a Supplemental Memorandum in Support of
their Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Regarding
Unseaworthiness. (Rec. Doc. 128). Plaintiff Kenneth Roberts
(“Roberts”) has filed a response to this motion.
(Rec. Doc. 129). The motion, set for submission on March 7,
2018, is before the Court on the briefs without oral
argument. This matter is set as a jury trial
beginning on May 14, 2018 at 8:30 a.m. Having considered the
motion and memoranda of counsel, the record, and the
applicable law, the Court finds that the Defendants'
motion should be GRANTED for the reasons set
bring this motion contending that Roberts's
unseaworthiness claim must be dismissed. (Rec. Doc. 122). In
his Complaint, Roberts asserts claims for negligence under
the Jones Act (46 U.S.C. § 30104), as well as claims for
unseaworthiness and maintenance and cure under general
maritime law. (Rec. Doc. 1).
matter arises from a maritime personal injury action. Roberts
contends that on November 22, 2013, he experienced an
accident resulting in serious injuries while employed by
Inland Salvage, Inc. (“Inland Salvage”). (Rec.
Doc. 1, p. 2, ¶ 5). On August 22, 2014, Roberts filed a
Seaman's Complaint for Damages against Inland Salvage.
(Rec. Doc. 1). However, Inland Salvage filed for Chapter 11
Bankruptcy prior to Roberts filing his Complaint. (Rec. Doc.
19-1, p. 1). Roberts was then precluded from maintaining an
action against Inland Salvage due to the automatic stay on
actions against Inland Salvage during bankruptcy
proceedings. (Rec. Doc. 13, pp. 1-2).
on June 10, 2016, Roberts filed a First Supplemental and
Amended Complaint, directly naming the following entities as
defendants: American Equity Underwriters, Inc.; Castlepoint
National Insurance Company; and Underwriters at Lloyd's,
London Chubb Syndicate 1882 (“Chubb”). (Rec. Doc.
21, pp. 1-2, ¶¶ 13-15). Roberts did so in
accordance with Louisiana's Direct Action Statute (La.
R.S. § 22:1269), which allows him to maintain this
action directly against the insurer-defendants. Id.
at pp. 1-2, ¶¶ 17-18. After discovering the true
identity of Inland Salvage's insurers, Roberts again
amended his Complaint to add Hiscox Dedicated Corporate
Member Limited and Catlin Syndicate Limited Subscribing to
Covernote NO4MM-34-1049-03 as direct defendants (hereinafter
referred to as “Hiscox”). (Rec. Doc. 93).
Defendants Hiscox and Chubb bring the instant motion seeking
partial summary judgment dismissing the unseaworthiness
judgment is appropriate only if “the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, ” when
viewed in the light most favorable to the non-movant,
“show that there is no genuine issue as to any material
fact.” TIG Ins. Co. v. Sedgwick James, 276
F.3d 754, 759 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 447 U.S. 242, 249-50 (1986)). A dispute
about a material fact is “genuine” if the
evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a
verdict for the non-moving party. Id. (citing
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255). The court must draw all
justifiable inferences in favor of the non-moving party.
Id. (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255).
the moving party has initially shown “that there is an
absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's
cause, ” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 325 (1986), the non-movant must come forward with
“specific facts” showing a genuine factual issue
for trial. Id. (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e);
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio, 475
U.S. 574, 587 (1986)). Conclusional allegations and denials,
speculation, improbable inferences, unsubstantiated
assertions, and legalistic argumentation do not adequately
substitute for specific facts showing a genuine issue for
trial. Id. (citing SEC v. Recile, 10 F.3d
1093, 1097 (1993)).
Law and Analysis
summary of Roberts' allegations is necessary before
getting into the crux of Defendants' arguments. In his
original Complaint, Roberts includes a claim for
unseaworthiness against Inland Salvage based upon the general
maritime law. (Rec. Doc. 1, p. 4, ¶ XI). On
November 22, 2013, Roberts allegedly experienced an accident
which resulted in serious painful injuries to his back,
shoulder, and other parts of his body while employed by
Inland Salvage. Id. at p. 2, ¶ V. According to
his deposition, Roberts was working on a salvage job upon the
M/V Crown Charger when he fell down the interior steps of the
vessel and suffered the alleged injuries. (Rec. Doc. 122-3,
bring the instant motion seeking to dismiss Roberts's
unseaworthiness claim on two grounds. First, Defendants argue
that the vessel which Roberts was salvaging at the time of
his alleged accident, the M/V Crown Charger, was neither
owned nor operated by Roberts' employer, and therefore,
Inland Salvage did not owe Roberts a warranty of
seaworthiness. Second, Defendants argue that no warranty of
seaworthiness is owed to Roberts because the M/V Crown
Charger was not in navigation at the time of Roberts'
support of their first argument, Defendants put on extensive
evidence that proves the vessel on which Roberts was injured
was neither owned nor operated by Inland Salvage-Roberts'
employer. Records of the U.S. Coast Guard show that Crown
Transportation, Inc., of Jackson, Tennessee owned the M/V
Crown Charger. (Rec. Doc. 122-2). Moreover, Roberts admits,
via deposition testimony, that the M/V Crown Charger was not
owned by Inland Salvage. (Rec. Doc. 122-3, p. 11).
Roberts' co-workers also provide deposition testimony
supporting the contention that the M/V Crown Charger was
neither owned nor operated by Inland Salvage. Gary Griffin,
Director of Operations for Inland Salvage at the time of the
incident, testified that Inland Salvage did not own the M/V
Crown Charger. (Rec. Doc. 122-4, p. 18). Chris Ingram,
employed by Inland Salvage at the time of the incident, ...