United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
JOHNNY DEAN, SR.
SEA SUPPLY, INC. ET AL
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
case arises out of injuries allegedly sustained by Plaintiff
Johnny Dean, Sr. (“Plaintiff”) on August 29, 2015
while he was employed as a captain on the M/V JESSICA
ELIZABETH. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that he slipped
and fell in the engine room and sustained injuries to his
shoulder, neck, and back.
August 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint against
Defendants Sea Supply, Inc., Sea Supply, Inc. COB, and the
M/V JESSICA ELIZABETH (“Sea Supply”), the owner
of the M/V JESSICA ELIZABETH, and Plaintiff's employer at
the time of the accident. He seeks damages under the Jones
Act, 46 U.S.C. § 30104, and general maritime law for
Defendant's alleged negligence and vessel
unseaworthiness. He also seeks maintenance and cure until he
reaches maximum medical improvement. Defendant denies
liability claiming that Plaintiff's injuries were caused
in whole or in part by Plaintiff's own actions.
matter came on for trial without a jury on June 26, 2018. The
trial lasted three days. The Court has carefully considered
the testimony of all of the witnesses, the exhibits entered
into evidence during the trial, as well as the record.
Pursuant to Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, the Court hereby enters the following findings of
fact and conclusions of law. To the extent that any findings
of fact may be construed as conclusions of law, the Court
hereby adopts them as such. To the extent that any
conclusions of law constitute findings of fact, the Court
adopts them as such.
FINDINGS OF FACT
Plaintiff Johnny Dean, Sr. is an individual of the age of
majority and a resident of Louisiana.
Defendant Sea Supply is the owner and operator of the M/V
JESSICA ELIZABETH, a 95-ton offshore supply vessel.
all relevant times, Plaintiff was employed by Defendant Sea
Supply, as a seaman or member of the crew of the M/V JESSICA
ELIZABETH, in the capacity of captain. As a captain,
Plaintiff was responsible for the operation of the vessel as
well as managing the crew and the vessel's safety,
including implementing and enforcing the safety rules.
M/V JESSICA ELIZABETH has four engines. The engines are
numbered 1-4 starting on the port side of the engine room.
The No. 4 engine is located on the starboard side of the
vessel against the vessel's gunwale. The engine room
floor and stairs are made of aluminum diamond plate.
August 29, 2015, Plaintiff was working the “night
shift” - midnight to noon. When Plaintiff began his
shift, the M/V JESSICA ELIZABETH was tied up to a platform in
Ship Shoal 209-A located in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast
of Louisiana; she had been tied up for the night. Sometime
around 6:30 a.m., the vessel began making runs in the field,
transporting men and materials to the various rigs. Plaintiff
noticed that the No. 4 engine was having trouble starting.
Plaintiff's deckhand during the night shift was Torris
Bright. Bright went down to the engine room early in the
morning of August 29, 2015 and tried to start the No. 4
engine. However, he could not get it to start. Plaintiff
instructed him to start the other three engines and get ready
for their runs that day. Plaintiff instructed Bright to try
to start the No. 4 engine later in the morning as well, but
it still would not start. At this point, Plaintiff decided to
check on the No. 4 engine himself.
Later on that morning, Plaintiff went down to check on the
No. 4 engine and attempted to start it himself but it would
not start. Plaintiff testified that at this point he believed
that the starter was jammed and that it would need to be
replaced. Plaintiff returned to the wheelhouse and told
Bright that they would change the starter after eating lunch.
Plaintiff testified that he went down to change the starter
before Bright had finished eating lunch. Plaintiff gathered
tools and began to work on the starter. Plaintiff testified
that he gathered various wrenches and some absorbent pads
which he intended to place on the bottom of the bilge so he
could stand on them while working on the starter. He
testified that there were cleaning rags in the rudder room
but they were under other materials and not readily
accessible. At this time, the vessel had returned to the
vicinity of the platform waiting for the crew change and
reach the starter for the No. 4 engine, Plaintiff had to
stand in the bilge. Plaintiff testified that the bilge was
wet and oily so he placed some absorbent pads in the bilge to
stand on. Notwithstanding the absorbent pads, Plaintiff got
oil on the bottom of his shoes and was aware of it.
After finishing his lunch, Bright came down to the engine
room to assist Plaintiff. Bright stood on the deck plating
next to the No. 4 engine. Bright was not standing in the
bilge with Plaintiff. Bright was wearing steel-toed, slip
resistant shoes while working on the starter.
Plaintiff testified that the wrenches he had selected would
not fit. He needed an additional ...