United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
BARRY J. BADEAUX
BP EXPLORATION & PRODUCTION, INC., ET AL.
ORDER & REASONS
E. FALLON U.S. JUDGE
the Court is a motion to dismiss filed by Defendants BP
Exploration & Production, Inc.; BP America Production
Company (collectively “BP”); and CB&I Group,
Inc. (“CB&I”). R. Doc. 19. Plaintiff Barry J.
Badeaux has filed an opposition, R. Doc. 20, and Defendants
have filed a reply, R. Doc. 26. Having considered the
pleadings, the parties' arguments, and the law, the Court
rules as follows.
Barry J. Badeaux filed the instant petition in 24th Judicial
District Court for the Parish of Jefferson, State of
Louisiana on July 10, 2018, alleging Defendants were unjustly
enriched when they used his idea for containing the flow of
oil released in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil
spill in April 2010. R. Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 5. Defendants
removed the petition to this Court on July 10, 2018. R. Doc.
alleges that, “in an effort to address the initial
problem of how to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of
Mexico, the entities responsible for the catastrophic oil
spill as well as local, state and federal officials sought
ways to cap the well.” R. Doc. 1-2 at ¶ 6.
According to Plaintiff, BP offered cash payments for
“useful ideas.” Id. In response to that
offer, Plaintiff purports to have “devised a plan to
prevent the oil spilling from the uncapped well from entering
surrounding marshes” by using a series of “barges
and specialized oil skimmers that would effectively collect
the oil before it could enter the marshes and reach the
coastline.” Id. at ¶ 7. As a part of his
design, Plaintiff alleges he drew plans for and built a
prototype of a “PVC pipe in a ‘bar bell type'
configuration” at his own expense. Id. at
¶ 7-8. Plaintiff contends he presented his drawn plans
to Chris Roberts, a member of the Parish Council in Jefferson
Parish Louisiana. Id. at ¶ 9. According to
Plaintiff, Mr. Roberts represented he would submit
Plaintiff's idea to the U.S. Coast Guard for approval on
Plaintiff's behalf. Id. at ¶ 10.
18, 2010, Deano Bonano, director of emergency preparedness
for Jefferson Parish, “discussed the plan to use 60
barges to make a 7, 000-foot barrier to block and channel the
oil at the entrance to Barataria Bay.” Id. at
¶ 13. “A short time later, Kevin Davis, the then
President of St. Tammany Parish, indicated that St. Tammany
Parish would also implement the barge plan.”
Id. at ¶ 12. The Coast Guard subsequently
approved this plan, and barges were placed at the entrance to
Barataria Bay and at the mouth of the Rigolets at Lake Borgne
to prevent oil from entering the marshland. Id. at
¶ 12, 14. Plaintiff alleges it was his plan the Coast
Guard approved. Id. at 13.
contends that once he noticed the plan being implemented was
actually his, he “made several telephone calls to
various BP representatives informing them of the fact that
the barge/oil skimmer plan was his and that it could not be
used without his permission or compensation.”
Id. at ¶ 15. He also alleges he sent
correspondence to BP in which he “reserved all rights
to his invention and made demand for payment of any use of
his device.” Id. at ¶ 16. Plaintiff
alleges BP did not respond. Id.
asserts he did not give permission for use of his designs and
was not compensated by Defendants for his time and efforts,
including the construction of the prototype barge.
Id. at ¶ 8, 14, 19. Specifically, Plaintiff
claims that, although it was his design the Coast Guard
ultimately approved, BP instead contracted with Defendant
CB&I to implement Plaintiff's plan, through which
CB&I received millions of dollars in payment.
Id. at ¶ 20. Plaintiff further alleges BP
benefitted from the use of his designs by reducing its
exposure to increased damages from further harm to the
Louisiana coastal wetlands for which it was responsible.
Id. at ¶ 21-22. Based on this factual
background, Plaintiff brings claims for unjust enrichment
against BP and CB&I. Id. at ¶ 23.
jointly move to dismiss Plaintiff's petition for failure
to state a claim. R. Doc. 19. They argue Plaintiff's
claim should be dismissed because his petition contains only
conclusory allegations and fails to plausibly allege several
necessary elements of unjust enrichment R. Doc. 19-2 at 2, 9.
Defendants assert Plaintiff's petition does not contain
sufficient factual allegations to state a plausible claim
that his idea was used by either St. Tammany or Jefferson
Parish. Id. at 3. Second, Defendants argue that,
even if Plaintiff's invention or design was used to clean
up the oil spill, Plaintiff was neither impoverished nor were
Defendants unjustly enriched by its use, as Plaintiff
voluntarily gave his designs to Louisiana Parish officials at
his own risk. Id. at 5. Third, Defendants argue
that, because the contract between them constituted a valid
juridical act, Plaintiff has not plausibly alleged that any
purported enrichment or impoverishment was without
“cause.” Id. at 5, 7. Finally,
Defendants argue the availability of other remedies at law
preclude Plaintiff's claim. Id. at 7-9.
opposition, Plaintiff argues his petition adequately alleges
facts for each of the five elements of unjust enrichment
under Louisiana law. R. Doc. 20 at 2. Plaintiff alleges
CB&I was enriched by the multi-million-dollar contract it
obtained using his invention and designs. Id. at 4.
With respect to Defendant BP, Plaintiff alleges his invention
prevented the “destruction of marshlands and coastline
as well as marine life including shrimp, crabs and small
fish, ” thereby enriching BP through savings in damages
that were mitigated by use of his plan. Id. at 3.
Plaintiff argues he has been impoverished because he has not
received any compensation for the use of his work.
Id. at 4. Plaintiff further argues that his
allegation that he presented his design to government
officials who in turn gained approval for its use by the
Coast Guard establishes the connection between his
impoverishment and Defendants' enrichment, id.
at 3, and that the use of his design without permission and
compensation satisfies the absence of justification or cause
requirement, id. at 4-5. Finally, Plaintiff argues
there are no other remedies at law available to him, as he
does not hold a patent on his design and does not have a
contractual relationship with either Defendant. Id.
at 6-7. Accordingly, Plaintiff argues that his allegations,
taken as true, satisfy the elements for an unjust enrichment
claims. Id. at 7.
reply, Defendants maintain Plaintiff's petition lacks
factual allegations from which the Court can infer his
invention was used in the oil spill response efforts. R. Doc.
26 at 2. Defendants contend Plaintiff's allegations are
legal conclusions with little to no factual support.
Id. at 2-3. Thus, Defendants reiterate their
assertion that ...