United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Lafayette Division
PATRICK J. HANNA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
pending is the motion for summary judgment filed by
defendants Shell Offshore, Inc. and Shell Oil Company. (Rec.
Doc. 46). 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 the
motion and dismisses the plaintiff's claims against Shell
Offshore, Inc. and Shell Oil Company with prejudice.
plaintiff, Rico Patrick Zachary, claims that he was injured
due to an incident that occurred on September 25, 2014 while
he was working as a derrick hand for Weatherford
International, Inc. on a fixed platform located at Ship Shoal
241 in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. He
alleged that the two Shell entities (collectively referred to
as “Shell” hereinafter) owned the platform.
following uncontested facts were established by Shell. Shell
and Weatherford entered into a Global Well Services
Arrangement (“GWSA”) that governs the way in
which Weatherford was to perform certain oilfield services
for Shell. The GWSA states that Weatherford is an independent
contractor, that Shell has the right to inform Weatherford of
the results to be obtained through Weatherford's efforts,
but that Weatherford retains “complete control,
supervision[, ] and direction of the method and manner of
obtaining such results.” (Rec. Doc. 47-1 at 10 -
Paragraph 28.5 of the agreement).
August 30, 2013, pursuant to the GWSA, Shell and Weatherford
entered into a contract by which Weatherford's Pulling
and Jacking Unit 4 was to be delivered to Shell's
platform at Ship Shoal 241. Under the contract, Weatherford
was also obligated to provide a crew to perform services on
Shell's platform using the pulling unit.
Weatherford's pulling unit was temporarily located on
Shell's platform between August 2013 and October 2014.
The pulling unit could be, and actually was, removed from the
platform without substantial damage to the pulling unit or
did not design, manufacture, own, inspect, maintain, control,
operate, or have custody of the pulling unit provided by
Weatherford for work on Ship Shoal 241. Instead, Weatherford
was responsible for the inspection, maintenance, and
operation of the pulling unit. Shell did not instruct the
Weatherford crew or direct the manner or method in which
Weatherford performed its work for Shell.
time of the accident, the plaintiff had been employed by
Weatherford for about four and a half years, and he had been
assigned to Pulling Unit 4 on Shell's Ship Shoal 214
platform for about two and a half months. In his deposition
testimony, the plaintiff described Weatherford's pulling
units as mini drilling rigs that are used to pull pipe from
the ground. He stated that Weatherford's pulling units
are kept in Weatherford's yard when not in use, and all
of them are used in offshore operations. He further stated
that, when a Weatherford pulling unit is needed for a job, a
Weatherford crew is sent out to the jobsite to operate the
pulling unit. He stated that only Weatherford employees are
allowed to operate Weatherford's pulling units.
plaintiff was on the Weatherford crew sent out to Ship Shoal
241 to operate Pulling Unit 4. The crew consisted of a
derrick hand (the plaintiff), two floor hands, a driller, and
a supervisor. In addition to the pulling unit itself, the
Weatherford crewmembers brought out to the platform all of
the other equipment they needed for the job, including
slings, tools, and face shields. While the Weatherford crew
was on the platform, they performed regular inspections of
the pulling unit, including inspections of the pipe stops on
the pulling unit. During these inspections, the plaintiff did
not see anything wrong with the pipe stops.
day of the accident, the plaintiff worked the six a.m. to six
p.m. shift. Immediately before the accident, while operations
were at a standstill and the crew was preparing for their
next task, he had noticed that hydraulic fluid had leaked
onto the rig floor. He went to get some oil pads out of a
Weatherford tool box to clean it up. He testified that, after
he closed the tool box, something hit his right shoulder and
knocked his hard hat off. He later learned that the object
that hit him was the arm of a pipe stop that had broken off
from the Weatherford pulling unit. No. operations were taking
place at the time, and the plaintiff stated that the pipe
stop was completely stationary before the arm allegedly broke
off and fell, striking him.
deposition testimony, the plaintiff stated that his
supervisor on the job was a Weatherford employee, that he
received all of his instructions from either his Weatherford
supervisor or the Weatherford driller, that neither he nor
any other member of the Weatherford crew received any
step-by-step directions from Shell, and that no one from
Shell operated any of Weatherford's equipment, including
but not limited to the pulling unit or the pipe stops on the
pulling unit. He also testified that he did not know of
anything that Shell did to cause the pipe stop to fall.
The Summary Judgment Standard
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. A genuine ...