United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
the Court is a motion to continue filed by Defendant Spartan
Offshore Drilling, LLC (“Spartan”). R. Doc. 58.
Plaintiff Peter Angelle opposes the motion. R. Doc. 62.
Spartan has filed a reply. R. Doc. 68. The Court discussed
the matter with counsel during a telephone status conference
on July 26, 2019. R. Doc. 66. The Court now rules as follows.
maritime personal injury case arises from injuries Mr.
Angelle allegedly sustained while aboard the SPARTAN 208, a
jack-up drilling vessel owned, operated, and controlled by
Spartan. R. Doc. 22 at ¶ 3. Mr. Angelle asserts that on
or about July 18, 2017, while checking the filtration unit on
the vessel, he “tripped on a packer stem sticking out
of a pallet stowed near the filter unit . . . . fell forward
into a hand rail, lost his footing and fell to the vessel
deck.” Id. at ¶¶ 5-6. Mr. Angelle
claims the incident caused injuries to his lumbar and
cervical spine, right shoulder and connective joints,
tissues, and nerves, which require medical care, treatment,
and surgery. Id. at ¶ 7.
Angelle asserts his injuries were caused by Spartan's
negligent “fail[ure] to act with due care under the
circumstances, ” “fail[ure] to provide [him] with
a safe work place free of unreasonably dangerous hazards
aboard its vessel, ” and “the vessel negligence
of the SPARTAN 208.” Id. at ¶ 8. Due to
Spartan's alleged negligence, Mr. Angelle seeks
“damages for past, present and future physical and
emotional pain and suffering, permanent physical disability
and scarring, past and future medical expenses, loss of wages
and wage earning capacity, and loss of fringe benefits in an
amount to be determined in this cause.” Id. at
the accident, Mr. Angelle was treated at an Urgent Care
clinic and was eventually referred to Dr. Patrick Juneau, a
neurosurgeon in Lafayette, LA, who Plaintiff began treating
with for his spinal injuries on August 10, 2017. R. Doc. 62
at 1. Dr. Juneau ordered an MRI of Mr. Angelle's lumbar
spine, which took place on August 22, 2017. Id.
After reviewing the results of the MRI, on September 14,
2017, Dr. Juneau stated,
As I look at this MRI, to my eye he has a little foraminal
narrowing on the right side at the L4-5 level. This is seen
on axial image #19. I do not see a disc herniation at any
level in the lumbar spine. I think that his lumbar symptoms
are most likely related to a lumbar radiculopathy resulting
from some inflammation in the nerve root exiting at the right
R. Doc. 58-5 at 1. As a result of this MRI, Dr. Juneu
recommended Mr. Angelle “undergo some outpatient
physical therapy to his lower back” and “a series
of lumbar epidural steroid injections.” Id.
Mr. Angelle underwent a steroid injection on December 20,
2017. R. Doc. 58-1 at 3.
Angelle returned to Dr. Juneau on April 4, 2018. Id.
At this visit, Mr. Angelle reported that “the lumbar
injection did improve his symptoms for about a day and then
the pain came right back, ” but that he “d[id]
not want to undergo anymore of these steroid injections
because he d[id] not think it is a longlasting cure.”
Id. Dr. Juneau then re-reviewed Mr. Angelle's
August 22, 2019 MRI, finding Mr. Angelle “d[id] have
symptoms of a right L5 radiculopathy, resulting from a disc
protrusion at the right L4-5 level.” R. Doc. 58-6 at 1.
As a result, Dr. Juneau recommended more physical therapy,
but stated that, if physical therapy was not successful, he
would recommend a right L4-5 microdiscectomy L4/L5
bilateral decompressive laminectomy and posterior lumbar
August 23, 2018, Plaintiff underwent an independent medical
evaluation (“IME”) with Dr. Christopher Cenac,
Sr. in Houma, Louisiana. R. Doc. 62 at 2. Dr. Cenac issued
his initial report on August 23, 2018 and a supplemental
report on October 31, 2018. Id. In his supplemental
report, Dr. Cenac stated his opinion regarding Mr.
Angelle's August 22, 2017 MRI, finding “[t]here
[wa]s no evidence of an acute traumatic structural spinal or
disc injury on either imaging study.” R. Doc. 62-2 at
1. Attached to its motion, Spartan provided a picture of Mr.
Angelle wearing a back brace on the day of his IME with Dr.
Cenac; however, Spartan also provided a picture of Mr.
Angelle the day before the IME in which he was not wearing
the brace. R. Doc. 58-1 at 5-7.
December 11, 2018, Plaintiff saw Dr. Ilyas Munshi, another
neurosurgeon in Lafayette, LA, at the request of Dr. Juneau.
R. Doc. 62 at 2. In his report from the visit, Dr. Munshi
provided his interpretation of the August 22, 2017 lumbar
MRI: “Lumbar Spine MRI Interpretation Findings
consistent with spondylolisthesis are noted at ¶ 4-5 and
Grade 1. Findings consistent with herniated nucleus pulposus
are noted at ¶ 4-5 (right), small in size and moderate
in size.” Id. at 3. In the same report, Dr.
Munshi also stated, “[Mr. Angelle's] scans show a
herniation at ¶ 4/5 with a slip, ” and concurred
with Dr. Juneau's surgery recommendation. Id.
Mr. Angelle underwent surgery on December 26, 2018, which was
performed by Dr. Juneau and Dr. Ilyas.
deposed Dr. Juneau on June 25, 2019. R. Doc. 58-1 at 4.
During this deposition, Spartan asked Dr. Juneau “how
he found no disc herniation on September 14, 2017, but then
found a disc protrusion on April 4, 2018, ” to which
Dr. Juneau replied:
A. [A protrusion and a herniation] mean
different things to different ...