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Taylor Energy Company, LLC v. Luttrell

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 30, 2019

TAYLOR ENERGY COMPANY, LLC
v.
KRISTI M. LUTTRELL, ET AL

         SECTION “B” (5)

          OPINION

         This case arises out of a decade-plus-long discharge of sub-sea minerals from plaintiff's offshore wells following Hurricane Ivan in 2004. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan toppled Taylor Energy's production platform (“MC20A Platform”) located in federal waters adjacent to the State of Louisiana, scattering debris and burying the MC20 wells beneath approximately 150 feet of mud and sediment. Rec. Doc. 1 at 5-6. Plaintiff was designated the ‘Responsible Party' by the Coast Guard. Id. at 7. Plaintiff alleges that Captain Luttrell served it with a new Administrative Order on October 23, 2018, ordering it to institute a containment system to capture and remove oil near the platform, and later unilaterally selected Couvillion as the contractor. Id. at 19, 33. Plaintiff was subsequently informed that the Coast Guard would be partially assuming response actions at the MC20 site. Id. at 33.

         On December 20, 2018, plaintiff Taylor Energy filed a complaint to vacate administrative order and for other relief against defendant Captain Kristi M. Luttrell, in her official capacity as Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the MC20 Unified Command, and defendant the United States of America, acting by and through the United States Coast Guard. Rec. Doc. 1. Plaintiff Taylor Energy also filed a separate complaint against defendant Couvillion for declaratory judgment and for other relief. Rec. Doc. 1, CV-18-14051. The cases were consolidated. Rec. Doc. 22.

         On February 7, 2019, defendant Couvillion filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of standing and ripeness, as well as under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. Rec. Doc. 27. Among other things, Couvillion argued that plaintiff's complaint is grounded in unsupported speculation of potential harm and is therefore insufficient to establish a concrete injury. Rec. Doc. 27-1 at 9-11. Subsequently, plaintiff filed a motion to allow it to conduct jurisdictional discovery in order to respond to Couvillion's motion to dismiss. Plaintiff alleges factual information regarding certain jurisdictional assertions are uniquely in Couvillion's possession. Rec. Doc. 29-2 at 4.

         Oral arguments were received on February 27, 2019 on plaintiff's motion for jurisdictional discovery (Rec. Doc. 29), defendant Couvillion Group's motion to dismiss (Rec. Doc. 27), and plaintiff's motion to set defendant Couvillion's motion to dismiss for evidentiary hearing (Rec. Doc. 36). Rec. Doc. 48. After taking the motions under advisement, and considering supplemental briefing submitted by the parties, an order was issued on April 18, 2019 permitting limited jurisdictional discovery and instructing parties to submit a schedule for same no later than April 30, 2019. Rec. Doc. 78. In the same order, we dismissed defendant Couvillion's motion to dismiss (Rec. Doc. 27) and Federal Defendants' partial motion to dismiss (Rec. Doc. 61), all without prejudice to reurge in context of a summary judgment motion after completion of limited jurisdictional discovery. Id.

         Plaintiff and defendant Couvillion filed the instant supplemental memoranda in response to our April 18, 2019 order with separate proposed discovery schedules. Rec. Docs. 84, 85. Parties reportedly conducted a telephonic meet and confer on April 24, 2019 but were unable to agree upon a single schedule. Each side now seeks adoption of its respective proposed schedule. Federal Defendants also filed a status report opposing plaintiff's proposed schedule and asserting that the order for limited jurisdictional discovery applies only to the case against defendant Couvillion and not to the case against Federal Defendants. Rec. Doc. 86.

         Plaintiff Taylor Energy seeks to conduct jurisdictional discovery on the following matters:

1. The Coast Guard's written contract with Couvillion LLC including all “specifications, ” “directives, ” and “instructions.”
2. The basis for the Coast Guard's “higher confidence in the technical capability and response time proposed” by Couvillion LLC.
3. Whether Couvillion LLC's activities at the MC20 Site are “imminent.”
4. The details and specifications of Couvillion LLC's work to date, original and subsequent timelines, and planned activities for the MC20 Site.
5. The design and installation of Couvillion LLC's “Rapid Response” containment system.
6. Couvillion LLC's due diligence, professional experience, and qualification, including that of its subcontractor(s).
7. Couvillion LLC's understanding of the complex history of the MC20 Site and its current condition to evaluate whether the “reckless, gross negligence” and willful misconduct ...

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