United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
DEVIN BARRIOS ET AL.
CENTAUR LLC ET AL.
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
TRICHE MILAZZO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Devin Barrios and his wife, Megan Barrios, bring claims for
damages he sustained in an accident that occurred while he
was working a construction job for Centaur, LLC. Plaintiffs
bring claims under the Jones Act and general maritime law
against Devin Barrios's employer, Centaur, LLC.
Plaintiffs also bring claims for negligence under the
Longshore and Harbor Worker's Compensation Act against
Centaur and River Ventures, LLC. This matter went to trial
November 13 through 19, 2018. Having considered the evidence
admitted at trial and the arguments of counsel, this Court
makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.
To the extent a finding of fact constitutes a conclusion of
law, and vice versa, the Court adopts it as such.
all material times, Plaintiff Devin Barrios was employed by
Centaur, LLC (“Centaur”) and was acting in the
course and scope of his employment when he was injured on
January 25, 2016.
Centaur, a marine construction company, was hired by United
Bulk Terminals Davant, LLC (“UBT”) to build a
concrete containment wall around the edge of its dock
Barrios worked as a member of Centaur's construction crew
performing manual labor.
Centaur leased a barge to assist in the containment wall
project. The barge moved by winch along the dock to assist in
barge was a vessel in navigation. The mission of the barge
was to assist Centaur in building the containment wall.
Court found the testimony of Brandon Lavergne to be
Centaur crew stored tools for the containment wall project on
the barge. They held safety meetings, took breaks, and ate
lunch aboard the barge. They also unpacked and packed up
tools aboard the barge.
Centaur crew occasionally performed tasks like drilling
holes, cutting rebar, and pouring forms aboard the barge, but
the majority of the dock construction work was performed on
Barrios spent less than 30% of his time on the barge in
service of its mission.
Barrios is not a seaman.
hired River Ventures, LLC (“River Ventures”) to
provide a crew boat, the M/V TROOPER, to ferry Centaur
workers and occasionally their equipment from the parking lot
to the area of the dock upon which they were working.
River Ventures is the owner/operator of the M/V TROOPER.
John Hanna is the owner/operator of River Ventures.
John Ochello was the Captain of the M/V TROOPER and an
employee of River Ventures. Captain Ochello remained in
operational control of the M/V TROOPER at all times.
Barrios was a passenger on the M/V TROOPER, not a member of
the morning of January 25, 2016, Plaintiff and other members
of the Centaur crew rode from the parking lot to the barge on
the M/V TROOPER. They loaded a wheeled, portable generator
from a crew member's truck in the parking lot on to the
M/V TROOPER for transport to the barge.
Plaintiff was injured while transferring the portable
generator from the M/V TROOPER to the barge.
generator weighed more than 150 pounds.
the time of the injury, the Centaur crew transferred the
generator in a manner that had been done several times
While transferring the generator with the assistance of
another crewmember, Plaintiff placed one foot on the crew
boat and one foot on the rub rail of the barge. After the
generator was lifted from the crew boat and placed onto the
barge, the crew boat and barge began to separate from each
other, and Plaintiff fell into the water below. As he was
falling, he grabbed onto the generator, which caused the
generator to fall into the water and strike Plaintiff on the
Plaintiff fell into freezing cold water and had to swim out
from underneath the barge before being rescued by the M/V
TROOPER further down the river.
rope tied to the life ring aboard the M/V TROOPER was tangled
around the life ring. A member of the Centaur crew threw the
ring and its rope to Plaintiff in the water but could not
hold onto the end of the rope because it was tangled.
Plaintiff's fall into the water was a harrowing
experience. He testified that he “swam toward the
light” but did not know to which light he was swimming
or, apparently, whether he was dead or alive.
Captain Ochello did not moor the crew boat to the barge
before allowing the Centaur crew to perform the transfer of
Instead of mooring the crew boat, Captain Ochello used the
“twin screwing” method wherein he attempted to
hold the vessel against the barge using the thrust of the
This Court found the testimony of Robert Borison, an expert
in Marine Safety, and Patrick Cuty, an expert in Vessel
Operations, Root Cause Analysis, & Transfer of People and
Equipment to and from Vessels, credible that tying off the
crew boat to the barge would have prevented the separation
Captain Ochello was negligent for failing to tie the M/V
TROOPER to the barge during the transfer and/or for failing