United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
JEREMY A. PARKER
JOHN W. STONE OIL DISTRIBUTORS, L.L.C.
ORDER & REASONS
E. FALLON U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment, R. Doc. 28. The motion is opposed R. Doc. 35.
Plaintiff has filed a reply. R. Doc. 43. The Court now rules
case arises from injuries Plaintiff Jeremy Parker, a Jones
Act seaman, allegedly sustained while working as a tankerman
aboard Defendant's vessel, the M/V PRESAGER.
Plaintiff claims that a co-worker pulled on a face wire and a
line popped, resulting in a 10-pound shackle falling
approximately ten feet and hitting Plaintiff in the head.
Plaintiff alleges this impact caused serious injuries to his
neck and head and rendered him unfit for duty as a seaman.
According to the Complaint, the sole and proximate cause of
the accident was Defendant's negligence and maintenance
of an unseaworthy vessel. Accordingly, Plaintiff seeks to
recover past, present, and future physical, mental and
emotional pain and suffering; loss of wages and wage-earning
capacity; medical expenses; past and future physical
disability; and past, present, and future maintenance and
contests the cause of Plaintiff's accident and asserts
that Plaintiff placed himself in an unsafe position in
violation of Defendant's safety rules. Further, Defendant
alleges that Plaintiff failed to inspect the line in question
prior to its use.
moves for partial summary judgment under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 56(c) on his claims that Defendant was
negligent, Plaintiff was not contributorily negligent, and
Defendant's vessel was unseaworthy. According to
Plaintiff, it is undisputed that Plaintiff's injuries
were a result of Defendant's negligence and provision of
an unseaworthy vessel, and not a result of anything that
LAW AND ANALYSIS
judgment is proper “if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (citing
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). “Rule 56(c) mandates the entry of
summary judgment, after adequate time for discovery and upon
motion, against a party who fails to make a showing
sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential
to that party's case, and on which the party will bear
the burden of proof at trial.” Id. The court
must find “[a] factual dispute [to be]
‘genuine' if the evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party [and a]
fact [to be] ‘material' if it might affect the
outcome of the suit under the governing substantive
law.” Beck v. Somerset Techs., Inc., 882 F.2d
993, 996 (5th Cir. 1989) (citing Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).
ruling on a motion for summary judgment, a court may not
resolve credibility issues or weigh evidence. See Delta
& Pine Land Co. v. Nationwide Agribusiness Ins. Co.,
530 F.3d 395, 398 (5th Cir. 2008); Int'l Shortstop,
Inc. v. Rally's Inc., 939 F.2d 1257, 1263 (5th Cir.
1991). Moreover, the court must assess the evidence and
“review the facts drawing all inferences most favorable
to the party opposing the motion.” Reid v. State
Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 784 F.2d 577, 578 (5th Cir.
1986). But “unsubstantiated assertions, ”
“conclusory allegations, ” and merely colorable
factual bases are insufficient to defeat a motion for summary
judgment. See Hopper v. Frank, 16 F.3d 92, 97 (5th
Cir. 1994); Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50.
Plaintiff seeks an entry of partial summary judgment on his
claims that Defendant was negligent, Plaintiff was not
contributorily negligent, and Defendant's vessel was
unseaworthy. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that: (1)
Plaintiff's injuries could have been avoided if Defendant
had inspected the work area and equipment; (2) the line in
question only popped because of its deteriorated condition,
and it would have been taken out of service if Defendant had
inspected it, R. Doc. 28-1 at 6; and (3) Defendant cannot
show that Plaintiff did anything wrong or was contributorily
negligent, R. Doc. 28-1 at 8. Defendant opposes the motion,
arguing that the case is rife with disputed facts, such as
the cause(s) of Plaintiff's accident, that preclude the
entry of summary judgment. R. Doc. 35 at 1. Defendant
contends that the accident was caused because Plaintiff
placed himself in an unsafe position in violation of
Defendant's safety rules and because Plaintiff failed to
inspect the line in question prior to its use. R. Doc. 35 at
1. The Court will discuss each of Plaintiff's claims in
Liability under the Jones Act
the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 688, a seaman's employer
is liable for damages if the employer's negligence caused
the seaman's injury, either in whole or in part.
Gautreaux v. Scurlock Marine, Inc., 107 F.3d 331,
335 (5th Cir. 1997) (en banc). An employer is also liable if
its employees' negligence played “any part, even
the slightest” in causing the injury or death for which
damages are sought. Id. (citing Rogers v.
Missouri Pacific R. Co., 352 U.S. 500, 506 (1957)).
However, the Fifth Circuit clarified that the employer's
standard of care is not greater than that of ordinary
negligence under the circumstances. Gautreaux, 107
F.3d at 339. “[A] Jones Act employer is not an insurer
of a seaman's safety; the mere occurrence of an injury
does not establish liability.” Marvin v. Central
Gulf Lines, Inc., 554 F.2d 1295, 1299 (5th Cir.1977),
cert. denied, ...