United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
following motions are before the Court: Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment (Rec. Doc. 108) filed by Coastal Towing,
LLC; Motion in Limine to Exclude John Pierce (Rec. Doc. 107)
filed by REC Marine Logistics, LLC. Both motions are opposed.
The motions, submitted to the Court on May 16, 2018, are
before the Court on the briefs without oral argument.
action arises out of injuries that Plaintiff Patrick Knox
sustained during a personnel basket transfer in July 2014
while working in the Gulf of Mexico. Knox, who was employed
by Coastal Towing, LLC, was working as a crewmember on the
TRENT JOSEPH when he became seriously ill and needed to be
evacuated to shore for treatment. To effect the evacuation,
Knox first transferred from the TRENT JOSEPH to the MIGHTY
CHIEF, Bisso Marine's vessel, and then from the MIGHTY
CHIEF to the MS JANE, REC Marine Logistic's vessel. A
crane was used to transfer Knox via personnel basket from the
MIGHTY CHIEF to the MS JANE. According to Knox, during the
transfer the crane operator slammed the personnel basket onto
the deck of the MS JANE causing Knox to be ejected. Knox was
then battered with the basket. Knox claims serious injuries
to his neck, back, hip, knee and other parts of his body as a
result of the incident.
instant litigation was initiated by Coastal, Knox's
employer and owner/operator of the TRENT JOSEPH, who sought a
declaratory judgment that REC was responsible for the
incident and must indemnify Coastal for all sums paid to
Knox. REC filed a third-party demand against Dawn seeking
defense and indemnity under Dawn's contract with Bisso.
Knox was granted leave to intervene to assert claims against
Bisso, REC, and Coastal.
trial is scheduled for September 17, 2018 (Rec. Doc. 99).
Coastal Towing's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
was Knox's Jones Act employer. Coastal moves for summary
judgment on the issue of liability for Knox's injuries.
It is undisputed that Coastal was not directly involved in
the basket transfer that injured Knox. In fact, Knox had been
successfully transferred from the TRENT JOSEPH to the MIGHTY
CHIEF using the same personnel basket from which he was later
thrown. Knox sustained no injuries in that transfer. It was
during the second transfer from the MIGHTY CHIEF to the MS
JANE-again, a transfer that did not involve Coastal-that Knox
was injured. Coastal argues that Knox cannot prove that any
active negligence by Coastal injured him.
Bisso, and REC oppose Coastal's motion for partial
summary judgment. All three oppositions criticize Coastal for
conveniently focusing only on the events that occurred after
Knox was delivered to the MIGHTY CHIEF. Meanwhile the
oppositions suggest that the second basket transfer that
injured Knox was particularly risky because of rough seas and
high winds. But that transfer could not wait because by the
time Knox arrived on the MIGHTY CHIEF his health had
deteriorated to the point that he had to be transported via
helicopter to a hospital on shore. The opposition points out
that Coastal's personnel waited between 13-15 hours after
learning of Knox's illness before taking steps to
transport him. Thus, according to Knox, Bisso, and REC, it
was omissions by Coastal's employees (attributable in
part to lack of proper training) that put other parties in a
position to attempt a basket transfer under such inclement
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., 477 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
248). The court must draw all justifiable inferences in favor
of the non-moving party. Id. (citing Anderson, 477
U.S. at 255). Once 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 (5th Cir. 1993)).
Court is persuaded that Knox, Bisso, and REC have supported
their contentions with sufficient evidence to create an issue
of fact as to Coastal's liability for its employee's