United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS NATURE OF MOTION AND RELIEF
J. BARBIER UNITED STATES IE DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
(Rec. Doc. 32) filed by Defendant, Magnolia
Marine Transport Company, and an opposition thereto (Rec.
Doc. 33) filed by Plaintiff, Delmon Robinson. Having
considered the motion and legal memoranda, the record, and
the applicable law, the Court finds that the motion should be
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
litigation derives from an accident which occurred aboard the
M/V LAMPTON, a vessel owned and operated by Magnolia Marine
Transport Company (“Magnolia”). Plaintiff, Delmon
Robinson (“Robinson”), alleges that on August 2,
2014, he was injured when a cheater bar he was using to
tighten a winch gave way and accidently struck his left
kneecap. Shortly after the incident, Robinson underwent an
arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. On April 28, 2015,
Robinson's treating physician, Dr. Porter, released him
to return to work after concluding that he had reached
maximum medical improvement (“MMI”). As a result
of Dr. Porter's evaluation, Magnolia ceased the
maintenance and cure payments that it had been paying to
Robinson since the day of the accident.
began treating again with Dr. Porter in January 2017. At that
point, Dr. Porter noted that Robinson was “headed for
[a] total knee arthroplasty, ” but only prescribed
Mobic, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, and
instructed Robinson to return for treatment as needed.
Robinson returned for treatment on April 17, 2017, with
complaints of persistent pain, which resulted in Dr. Porter
ordering an MRI. The results of the MRI showed that Robinson
had a medial meniscal tear in his left knee. On May 8, 2017,
Dr. Porter determined that Robinson required another knee
surgery. After conducting an informal mediation, Magnolia
reinstated Robinson's maintenance and cure payments
beginning on May 8, 2017, continuing to date.
September 19, 2017, Robinson filed the instant suit against
Magnolia and others, seeking compensatory damages,
maintenance and cure, punitive damages, and attorney's
fees. Magnolia now moves for partial summary judgment on
Robinson's claims for punitive damages and maintenance
and cure. Essentially, Magnolia argues that it is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law because Robinson: (1) has reached
MMI, (2) concealed preexisting injuries to his left knee, and
(3) engaged in willful misconduct by using marijuana during
the term of his employment. The motion is now before the
Court on the briefs and without oral argument.
judgment is appropriate when “the pleadings, the
discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any
affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 56); Little
v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994).
When assessing whether a dispute as to any material fact
exists, a court considers “all of the evidence in the
record but refrains from making credibility determinations or
weighing the evidence.” Delta & Pine Land Co.
v. Nationwide Agribusiness Ins. Co., 530 F.3d 395, 398
(5th Cir. 2008). All reasonable inferences are drawn in favor
of the nonmoving party, but a party cannot defeat summary
judgment with conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated
assertions. Little, 37 F.3d at 1075. A court
ultimately must be satisfied that “a reasonable jury
could not return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Delta, 530 F.3d at 399.
dispositive issue is one on which the moving party will bear
the burden of proof at trial, the moving party “must
come forward with evidence which would ‘entitle it to a
directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at
trial.'” Int'l Shortstop, Inc. v.
Rally's, Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1264-65 (5th Cir.
1991). The nonmoving party can then defeat the motion by
either countering with sufficient evidence of its own, or
“showing that the moving party's evidence is so
sheer that it may not persuade the reasonable fact-finder to
return a verdict in favor of the moving party.”
Id. at 1265.
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 merely pointing out that the evidence
in the record is insufficient with respect to an essential
element of the nonmoving party's claim. See
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. The burden then shifts to the
nonmoving party, who must, by submitting or referring to
evidence, set out specific facts showing that a genuine issue
exists. See Id. at 324. The nonmovant may not rest
upon the pleadings, but must identify specific facts that
establish a genuine issue for trial. See, e.g.,
id. at 325; Little, 37 F.3d at 1075.
Maintenance and Cure
contends that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law
on Robinson's maintenance and cure claim because Robinson
has reached MMI. Robinson contends that summary judgment is
inappropriate because a fact question remains as to whether
he has reached MMI. In addition, Robinson contends that he is
entitled to ...