United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
JOSEPH M. ABADIE AND AMY ABADIE
MADERE AND SONS MARINE SERVICES, LLC, ET AL
ORDER AND REASONS
ANN VIAL LEMMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion for Summary Judgment on Seaman
Status by plaintiffs, Joseph M. Abadie and Amy Abadie (Rec.
Doc. 68) is DENIED.
matter is before the court on a motion for summary judgment
on seaman status filed by plaintiffs, Joseph and Amy Abadie.
Plaintiffs allege that on July 19, 2016, plaintiff Joseph
Abadie ("Abadie") was employed by defendants,
Madere and Sons Marine Services, LLC ("Madere")
and/or Deep South Oilfield Construction, LLC ("Deep
South"). Abadie was assigned to work as the captain of
the M/V MAMMA MIA, a crew boat in navigation owned and
operated by Madere and Deep South. Abadie was instructed to
sail the M/V MAMMA MIA to a production platform in the Main
Pass Block 49 Field in Louisiana state territorial waters.
the vessel arrived at the production platform, Abadie was
informed by the platform well site supervisor, defendant
Craig Gautreaux, that the vessel had to take on a tote tank
containing liquid oilfield waste and weighting approximately
4, 600 pounds from the platform and to take it to shore.
Abadie advised Gautreaux that the tote tank was too big and
heavy to be safely offloaded from the production platform
onto the M/V MAMMA MIA, but Gautreaux insisted on using the
M/V MAMMA MIA to do the job.
operated the production platform's crane to lower the
tote tank onto the stern deck of the M/V MAMMA MIA. During
the process, the tote tank swung toward the vessel's bow,
striking Abadie and pinning him against the bulkhead between
the stern deck and the wheelhouse. Abadie alleges that he
sustained multiple injuries as a result of the accident,
including bruises and abrasions and injuries to his spine,
shoulder and connective joints, tissues and nerves.
13, 2017, plaintiffs filed this action against, inter alia,
Madere and Deep South, seeking damages for the injuries
Abadie allegedly sustained as a result of the accident, and
alleging that Madere and Deep South are liable for negligence
under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 30104, et seq., and for
the unseaworthiness of the M/V MAMMA MIA under the general
maritime law. Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint alleging
that their claims are maritime claims that arise under Rule
9(h) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs now
seek summary judgment on the question of seaman status,
arguing that there is no issue of fact bearing on that
question. They specifically cite the deposition testimony of
Madere company owner Chad Madere, in which he stated that he
"guessed" that during the years that Abadie worked
on vessels under common Madere ownership and control, he
spent at least 30% of his time on vessels. His work aboard
the vessels included vessel navigation/operation, deckhand
duties, rigger duties and construction barge (vessel)
superintendent in charge of barge operations. Defendants
oppose, arguing that a factual dispute exists as to whether
he spent 30% or more of his work time abouard vessels and
whether he was a member of each vessel's crew.
judgment is proper when, viewing the evidence in the light
most favorable to the non-movant, “there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and ... the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Amburgey
v. Corhart Refractories Corp., 936 F.2d 805, 809 (5th
Cir.1991); Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 56(c). If the moving party
meets the initial burden of establishing that there is no
genuine issue, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to
produce evidence of the existence of a genuine issue for
trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 106 S.Ct. 2548,
2552 (1986). The non-movant cannot satisfy the summary
judgment burden with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated
assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence. Little v.
Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir.1994) (en
banc). If the opposing party bears the burden of proof at
trial, the moving party does not have to submit evidentiary
documents to properly support its motion, but need only point
out the absence of evidence supporting the essential elements
of the opposing party's case. Saunders v. Michelin
Tire Corp., 942 F.2d 299, 301 (5th Cir.1991).
Status under the Jones Act
Jones Act provides that a “seaman injured in the course
of employment ... may elect to bring a civil action at law,
with the right of trial by jury, against the employer.”
46 U.S.C. § 30104. The plaintiff bears the burden of
establishing seaman status. Becker v. Tidewater,
Inc., 335 F.3d 376, 390 n. 8 (5th Cir. 2003). The Jones
Act does not define “seaman.” See Id.
Determining “whether an injured worker is a seaman
under the Jones Act is a mixed question of law and fact and
it is usually inappropriate to take the question from the
jury.” Id. at 386. However, the court may take
the question from the jury by granting summary judgment or a
directed verdict when the undisputed facts demonstrate that
the maritime worker clearly does not meet the criteria for
seaman status. Alexander v. Express Energy Servs.
Operating, L.P., 784 F.3d 1032, 1034 (5th Cir. 2015).
the Jones Act does not define ‘seaman,' Congress
has elsewhere defined it as the ‘master or member of
any crew of any vessel.” Naquin v. Elevating Boats,
L.L.C., 744 F.3d 927, 932 (5th Cir.2014) (quoting
Chandris, Inc. v. Latsis,115 S.Ct. 2172, 2183
(1995)). In Chandris, the Supreme Court of the United States
test established a two-pronged test for determining whether a
maritime employee is a seaman under the Jones Act. 115 S.Ct.
at 2189-90. First, the employee's duties must
“contribute to the function of the vessel or to the
accomplishment of its mission.” Id. Satisfying
this prong of the seaman test is relatively easy because the
individual “need only show that he does the ship's
work.” Naquin, 744 F.3d at 933 (quoting
Becker, 335 F.3d at 387-88). Second, the employee “must
have a connection to a vessel in navigation (or to an
identifiable group of such vessels) that is substantial in
terms of both its duration and its nature.” Chandris,
115 S.Ct. at 2189-90. The claimed connection to a vessel or
fleet of vessels must be “temporally, more than
fleeting, and, substantively, more than incidental[, ]”
because the fundamental purpose of the substantial connection
requirement is “to separate the sea-based ...