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Bowie v. Cheramie Global Marine L.L.C.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 19, 2018

JARVIS BOWIE
v.
CHERAMIE GLOBAL MARINE, L.L.C.

         SECTION "F"

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are the parties' simultaneous submissions addressing whether this case, scheduled for a jury trial on July 30, 2018, should be tried by a jury. For the reasons that follow, this case will proceed to a jury trial by consent.

         Background

         This is a personal injury case in which a longshoreman alleges he was injured when the personnel basket in which he was being transported struck the side of the vessel due to it being lowered too far below the vessel's bulwarks.

         Cheramie Global Marine, L.L.C. provided its vessel, the M/V MR DINO to work in Energy XXI's filed during 2015. The M/V MR DINO had a crew of two workers, Captain Brian Nelson and deckhand Russell LeBouef. Island Operating is a company that works as a contractor at offshore platform and rigs and it provided two crane operators, Jarvis Bowie and Herman Johnson, to perform personnel basket transfers. Jarvis Bowie, now 40 years old, worked as a crane operator for several years with Island Operating. Captain Brian Nelson and deckhand Russel LeBouef worked together on the M/V MR DINO, and had conducted numerous personnel basket transfers with Bowie and Johnson operating the crane before August 29, 2015.

         On August 29, 2015, as he had done on several occasions, Bowie, operating the crane, sent the personnel basket down to the M/V MR DINO to pick up Herman Johnson for a shift change. Bowie raised Johnson up to the West Delta 74-B platform without incident. Johnson then took over the crane and began Bowie's personnel basket transfer down to the M/V MR DINO. Johnson lowered the personnel basket over the water, on the starboard side of the vessel. Johnson then began moving the basket towards the vessel. Both Bowie (in the basket) and LeBouef (on the deck) saw that the basket was lower than the top of the MR DINO's bulwarks and both gave Johnson the “raise load” signal. But the personnel basket did not rise. LeBouef then gave Johnson the “all stop” signal. But Johnson did not stop swinging the basket.

         What happened next is disputed.[1] Cheramie says that Bowie stepped off the personnel basket and onto the M/V MR DINO's bulwarks, then jumped down off the bulwarks. Bowie says that the basket hit the vessel and caused Bowie to fall to the deck of the vessel and injure his back.

         On April 20, 2016, Bowie sued Cheramie Global Marine, L.L.C. under the general maritime law, seeking to recover for its negligence in failing to provide him a safe basket transfer. He seeks to recover for maritime negligence of the vessel as well as for unseaworthiness. Louisiana Workers' Compensation Corporation intervened for indemnification. Bowie demanded a jury trial. The parties and the Court have continued to designate this matter as a jury trial, which is scheduled to begin on July 30, 2018.

         I.

         Rule 38 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure preserves a party's Seventh Amendment or federal statutory right to a trial by jury. It also states, however, that “[t]hese rules do not create a right to a jury trial on issues in a claim that is an admiralty or maritime claim under Rule 9(h).” Fed R. Civ. P. 38(e). Rule 39 provides:

(a) When a Demand Is Made. When a jury trial has been demanded under Rule 38, the action must be designated on the docket as a jury action. The trial on all issues so demanded must be by jury unless:
(1) the parties or their attorneys file a stipulation to a nonjury trial or so stipulate on the record; or
(2) the court, on motion or on its own, finds that on some or all of those issues there is no federal ...

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