United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER & REASONS
W. ASHE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is a motion for summary judgment filed by
defendants Chevron Oronite Company, LLC
(“Chevron”) and Gary Thomas (collectively,
“Defendants”),  in which they argue that Chevron
qualifies as plaintiff Gordon Gamble's statutory employer
under the Louisiana Workers' Compensation Law, La. R.S.
23:1061, and thus Defendants are immune from tort liability
for Gamble's alleged injury. Having considered the
parties' memoranda and the applicable law, the Court
grants the motion finding that Chevron is Gamble's
statutory employer under the statute.
matter concerns a work-related injury. Gamble filed this
action against Chevron and Thomas in the 25th
Judicial District Court, Parish of Plaquemines, State of
Louisiana, alleging that he was injured while working at
Chevron's plant in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, as a
pipefitter employed by Zachry Holding, Inc.
(“Zachry”). Gamble alleges that on June 26, 2018,
he was asked to change a busted gasket on a two-inch
condensate line. Before starting the work, Gamble and
Calvin Parker, his foreman, requested that Thomas isolate the
valve and bleed the pipes. Thomas did so and informed Gamble that
it was safe to proceed. Gamble alleges that, when he cut the
bolts, chemicals, hot water, and steam blew out of the pipe
causing him to sustain serious bodily injury, including
severe burns. Gamble alleges that Chevron and Thomas are
liable for his injuries due to the unreasonably dangerous
condition of the plant and their negligence.
removed the action to this Court on the basis of diversity
subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332,
contending that Thomas was improperly joined because Gamble
cannot recover from him. Chevron argued that pursuant to a
November 1, 2015 Master Products and Services Agreement
(“MPSA”) between itself and Zachry, Chevron was
Gamble's statutory employer. Thus, Gamble and Thomas
were co-employees and Thomas is immune from
liability. Gamble did not oppose the removal.
filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure arguing that Gamble cannot
state a valid claim against him. Thomas, relying on the
MPSA, which he did not attach to his motion, argued that the
Court did not have jurisdiction over Gamble's claims
against him because he is immune from liability for
Gamble's alleged injuries as Gamble's co-employee due
to Chevron's status as Gamble's statutory
opposed Thomas' motion arguing that the MPSA provision
upon which Thomas relied is invalid pursuant to Prejean
v. Maintenance Enterprises, Inc., 8 So.3d 766 (La.App.
2009), which invalidated a statutory employer clause because
it impermissibly sought to relieve the purported statutory
employer from liability to pay workers' compensation
benefits to the injured statutory employee. Gamble argued
that, as a result, Chevron is not his statutory employer,
Thomas is not his co-employee, and they are not immune from
Court denied Thomas' motion to dismiss finding that the
motion had to be treated as a motion for summary judgment
because Thomas relied upon the MPSA which was neither
referenced in, nor attached to, the pleadings. Rule 12(d)
dictates that in this situation all parties must have an
opportunity to present all material pertinent to the motion.
Therefore, the Court denied Thomas' motion to dismiss
without prejudice to his refiling it as a motion for summary
judgment addressing all aspects of the application of the
statutory employer and co-employee doctrines. The instant
motion is the anticipated motion for summary judgment.
LAW & ANALYSIS
Summary Judgment Standard
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. A party
moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of
demonstrating the basis for summary judgment and identifying
those portions of the record, discovery, and any affidavits
supporting the conclusion that there is no genuine issue of
material fact. Id. at 323. If the moving party meets
that burden, then the nonmoving party must use evidence
cognizable under Rule 56 to demonstrate the existence of a
genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 324.
genuine issue of material fact exists if a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1996). The substantive law identifies which facts are
material. Id. Material facts are not genuinely
disputed when a rational trier of fact could not find for the
nonmoving party upon a review of the record taken as a whole.
See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Equal Emp't
Opportunity Comm'n v. Simbaki, Ltd., 767 F.3d 475,
481 (5th Cir. 2014). “[U]nsubstantiated assertions,
” “conclusory allegations, ” and merely
colorable factual bases are insufficient to defeat a motion
for summary judgment. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at
249-50; Hopper v. Frank, 16 F.3d 92, 97 (5th Cir.
1994). In ruling on a summary judgment motion, a court may
not resolve credibility issues or weigh evidence. See
Delta & Pine Land Co. v. Nationwide Agribusiness Ins.
Co., 530 F.3d 395, 398-99 (5th Cir. 2008). Furthermore,
a court must assess the evidence, review the facts, and draw
any appropriate inferences based on the evidence in the light
most favorable to the party opposing summary judgment.
See Tolan v. Cotton, 572 U.S. 650, 656 (2014);
Daniels v. City of Arlington, 246 F.3d 500, 502 (5th
Cir. 2001). Yet, a court only draws reasonable inferences in
favor of the nonmovant “when there is an actual
controversy, that is, when both parties have submitted
evidence of contradictory facts.” Little v. Liquid
Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (citing
Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871,
the movant demonstrates the absence of a genuine dispute, the
nonmovant must articulate specific facts and point to
supporting, competent evidence that may be presented in a
form admissible at trial. See Lynch Props., Inc. v.
Potomac Ins. Co. of Ill., 140 F.3d 622, 625 (5th Cir.
1998); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A) & (c)(2). Such facts must
create more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts.” Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 586.
When the nonmovant will bear the burden of proof at trial on
the dispositive issue, the moving party may simply point to
insufficient admissible evidence to establish an essential
element of the nonmovant's claim in order to satisfy its
summary judgment burden. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at