United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
E. KNOWLES, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on
Behalf of Parker Towing Company, Inc. [Doc. #16]. The Court
originally set the motion for oral hearing on April 18, 2018.
[Doc. #21]. However, given the temporal conflicts of counsel,
the Court cancelled the oral hearing and took the motion
under submission on the briefs. Having reviewed the pleadings
and the case law, the Court rules as follows.
Towing Company, Inc. (“PTC”) hired plaintiff
Gerald Carter on September 2, 2016. He worked one full 21-day
hitch and then returned for his second hitch in October 2016.
[Doc. #23-1 at p. 3]. On the second hitch, he injured his
lower back while working. [Id.]. Carter and another
deckhand, Ashford Nelson, were breaking down tow and moving
the rigging gear from one barge to another. [Id].
Nelson instructed Carter to toss or throw the rigging
equipment, which included heavy metal wires and ratchets,
from the barge on which they were standing to an adjoining
barge. [Id. at p.5-6]. During this activity, Carter
injured his lower back. [Id. at p. 4]. He began
experiencing pain that day, and it progressively worsened
over the course of the next day. [Id. at p. 7]. On
that day, PTC tasked Carter with painting a small portion of
its vessel, the TOM HUCKABEE, and Carter testified that he
was unable to bend down to paint the vessel due to his back
pain. [Doc. #16-6 at pp. 3-5]. Ultimately, Carter filled out
an accident report in which he stated that he could no longer
work due to the pain. [Id. at pp. 3-4].
March 28, 2017, Carter filed his complaint in which he
asserts three causes of action: (1) Jones Act negligence, (2)
general maritime law unseaworthiness, and (3) general
maritime law maintenance and cure. [Doc. #1]. On August 8,
2017, PTC filed its answer and affirmative defenses to
Carter's complaint. [Doc. #8].
Summary Judgment Standard
to Rule 56(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure,
summary judgment shall be granted “if the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The materiality of facts is
determined by the substantive law's identification of
which facts are critical and which facts are irrelevant.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A fact is material if it “might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing law.”
dispositive issue is one on which the nonmoving party will
bear the burden of proof at trial, the moving party may
satisfy its summary judgment burden by merely pointing out
that the evidence in the record contains insufficient proof
concerning an essential element of the nonmoving party's
claim. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp.
v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986); see also
Lavespere v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 910 F.2d 167, 178
(5th Cir. 1990). Once the moving party carries its burden
pursuant to Rule 56(a), the nonmoving party must “go
beyond the pleadings and by [his] own affidavits, or by the
‘depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, ' designate ‘specific facts
showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; see also Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S.
574, 587 (1986); Auguster v. Vermillion Parish School
Bd., 249 F.3d 400, 402 (5th Cir. 2001).
considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court views
the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, Gillis v. Louisiana, 294 F.3d 755, 758 (5th
Cir. 2002), and draws all reasonable inferences in favor of
that party. Hunt v. Rapides Healthcare Sys., L.L.C.,
277 F.3d 757, 764 (2001). Factual controversies are to be
resolved in favor of the nonmoving party, “but only
when there is an actual controversy, that is, when both
parties have submitted evidence of contradictory
facts.” Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d
1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). The Court
will not, “in the absence of any proof, assume that the
nonmoving party could or would prove the necessary
facts.” See Id. (citing Lujan v. Nat'l
Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 888 (1990)).
the Court is to consider the full record in ruling on a
motion for summary judgment, Rule 56 does not obligate it to
search for evidence to support a party's opposition to
summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(3)
(“court need consider only the cited materials”);
Malacara v. Garber, 353 F.3d 393, 405 (5th Cir.
2003) (“When evidence exists in the summary judgment
record but the nonmovant fails even to refer to it in the
response to the motion for summary judgment, that evidence is
not properly before the district court.”). Thus, the
nonmoving party should “identify specific evidence in
the record, and articulate” precisely how that evidence
supports his claims. Forsyth v. Barr, 19 F.3d 1527,
1537 (5th Cir. 1994).
nonmovant's burden is not satisfied merely by creating
“some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts,
” “by conclusory allegations, ” by
“unsubstantiated assertions, ” or “by only
a scintilla of evidence.” Little, 37 F.3d at
1075. Rather, a factual dispute precludes a grant of summary
judgment only if the evidence is sufficient to permit a
reasonable trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party.
Smith v. Amedisys, 298 F.3d 434, 440 (5th Cir.
Law and Analysis
moves for partial summary judgment on Carter's claim for
maintenance and cure, arguing that Carter knowingly failed to
disclose pre-existing back pain when he applied for
employment with it. “Maintenance and cure is a
contractual form of compensation afforded by the general
maritime law to seamen who fall ill or are injured while in
the service of a vessel.” Jauch v. Nautical Serv.,
Inc., 470 F.3d 207, 212 (5th Cir. 2006) (per curiam)
(paraphrasing McCorpen v. Cent. Gulf S.S. Corp., 396
F.2d 547, 548 (5th Cir. 1968)). “The shipowner's
obligation is deep-rooted in maritime law and is an incident
or implied term of a contract for maritime employment.”
McCorpen, 396 F.2d at 548. “A seaman may
recover maintenance and cure even for injuries or illnesses