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Martin Energy Services, LLC v. Petrel

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

October 2, 2018

MARTIN ENERGY SERVICES, LLC
v.
M/V BOURBON PETREL, ET ALL

         SECTION: “L” (4)

          ORDER

          KAREN WELLS ROBY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court is a Second Motion for Leave to File First Amended Complaint (Rec. Doc. 132) filed by the Plaintiff, Martin Energy Services, LLC. The Motion is opposed. Rec. Doc. 135. The Motion was heard on the briefs.

         I. Background

         This breach of contract, quantum meruit, and unjust enrichment case was originally filed in the District Court on December 30, 2014, pursuant to the Court's admiralty and maritime jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C § 1333 and Rule 9(h) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rec. Doc. 1. The Defendants in this matter are CGG Services U.S. Inc., three vessel-owners in personam, and the vessel owner's three vessels in rem.[1] As previously discussed in the Court's Order denying Martin's First Motion for Leave to Amend (Rec. Doc. 136), CGG S.A. (CGG U.S.'s French affiliate) has made a special appearance in this matter pursuant to their time charter with two of the vessels, which requires CGG S.A. to defend and indemnify the vessels and their owners against Martin's claims.

         Defendants claim that CGG U.S. reached their credit limit for purchasing fuel from Plaintiff. Rec. Doc. 130, p. 17. Due to these credit concerns, Defendants claim that Martin began to sell fuel to CGG U.S. through an intermediary company called O.W. Bunker USA, Inc. (OWB). Id. The complicated multi-party arrangement is represented by Defendants as involving the following steps: CGG U.S. issued purchase orders for their fuel needs to OWB, purchase orders were issued to OWB, OWB issued purchase order confirmations to Martin for the fuel purchases, Martin issued invoices to OWB for the sale of the fuel, OWB issued invoices to CGG U.S. for the sale of the fuel, which included a commission for OWB. Id., p. 2-3. Martin acknowledges that OWB was a “contract intermediary” between CGG and Martin. Rec. Doc. 133, p. 2.

         It is uncontested that once Martin's fuel was sold it was placed into the fuel transport vessels M/V Bourbon Petrel, M/V/ OMS Resolution, and the M/V/ Miss Lilly. Ownership of the vessels is uncontested: The M/V Bourbon Petrel was owned by SNC Bourbon CE Petrel and Bourbon Offshore Greenmar S.A., and was under time charter with CGG S.A., not CGG U.S. Id., p. 3. The M/V OMS Resolution was owned by Rederij Groen BV and was also under time charter to CGG S.A., not CGG U.S. The M/V Miss Lilly was owned by Sea Support Ventures, LLC and was under time charter to CGG U.S.

         It was also uncontested at the hearing for Martin's first proposed amendment that OWB didn't pay for the fuel it received and filed for bankruptcy, and is no longer a party to this matter. Rec. Doc. 130, p. 2; Rec. Doc. 133, p. 1. The amendment before the Court now states that the ultimate recipient of the fuel loaded onto the fuel transport vessels were three seismic vessels that were owned and operated by CGG S.A. Rec Doc. 132-1, p. 1.

         On January 16, 2015, CGG S.A. filed a Statement of Interest with the District Court, originally noting their special appearance was based on their time charter with the B/V Bourbon Petrel and their responsibility to defend and indemnify the in rem claims against the vessel. Rec. Doc. 9. The time charter CGG S.A. had with the M/V OMS Resolution also requires CGG S.A. to defend and indemnify the in rem claims against that vessel as well. Rec. Doc. 136, p. 2. Finally, as noted in the Court's denial of Martin's first proposed amendment, CGG S.A. was required to defend and indemnify the owners of the vessels, Bourbon Petrel SNC, Bourbon Offshore Greenmar S.A., and Roderij Groen BV, from Martin's in personam claims against them. Id., p. 3.

         Via crossclaim on April 21, 2016, Martin claimed unjust enrichment and quantum meruit against CGG U.S. Rec. Doc. 109. In this crossclaim Martin did not assert any claims against CGG S.A. Id.

         A. The Proposed Amended Complaint

         The proposed amendment is substantially similar to the first amendment Martin requested leave of the Court to file (Rec. Doc. 124), which sought to assert direct actions of unjust enrichment[2] and breach of contract against CGG S.A. The Court did not grant leave to amend. Rec. Doc. 136. The Court found that the proposed amendment was futile because (1) Martin had not alleged the existence of a contract between Martin and CGG S.A. that CGG S.A. could have breached, and because (2) there was no fact suggesting a link between the non-payment of fuel and any unjust enrichment by CGG S.A. The Court also found that Martin had shown undue delay in filing the Motion, and that CGG S.A. would be caused undue prejudice to be added to the party at such a late stage in the litigation.

         There is only one change in the amendment before the Court and Martin's first attempted amendment: Martin now seeks to allege that CGG S.A. owned and operated the three seismic vessels that were the ultimate beneficiaries of the fuel.[3] Rec. Doc. 132-3, p. 9, ¶¶ 11, 28 (Proposed Amended Complaint); Rec. Doc. 132-1, p. 1 (Memorandum in Support of Amended Complaint); Rec. Doc. 130-3, p. 27, ¶ C (Motion for Summary Judgment Exhibit). The complaint still does not articulate any contract entered into between CGG S.A. and Martin that CGG S.A. breached.

         Martin argues that the amendment will not cause CGG S.A. any prejudice because they have been present in the party for three years pursuant to their special appearance, because CGG S.A. and U.S. share the same counsel, and because CGG S.A. and U.S. have responded to discovery requests jointly. Rec. Doc. 132-1, p. 2-4. Martin also argues that there was no dilatory motive in filing the Motion ...


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