United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
ZAINEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a civil action brought by plaintiff Curtis Young pursuant to
the Jones Act and general maritime law against his employer,
defendant Offshore Marine Contractors, Inc.
(“OMC”). Plaintiff seeks damages for personal
injuries allegedly sustained while working as a deckhand
aboard the L/B JAMIE G. EYMARD. Plaintiff alleges that on
August 29, 2016, while the vessel was on navigable waters, he
was injured when an unsecured ladder fell on his shoulder and
back areas. Plaintiff seeks recovery for back ailments that
he contends are causally-related to the incident aboard the
disputes Plaintiff's contention that he sustained an
injury on August 29, 2016 while working aboard the vessel.
case was tried to the Court, sitting without a jury, on
August 21-22, 2019. Having considered the testimony and
evidence at trial, the depositions submitted in lieu of live
testimony, the arguments of counsel, and applicable law, the
Court now enters the following Findings of Fact and
Conclusions of Law in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 52(a). To the extent that any finding of fact may
be construed as a conclusion of law, the Court hereby adopts
it as such. To the extent that any conclusion of law
constitutes a finding of fact, the Court adopts it as such.
FINDINGS OF FACT
August 29, 2016, plaintiff Curtis Young was assigned to the
L/B JAIME G. EYMARD, a vessel owned and operated by OMC. The
JAIME EYMARD is a lift boat with three leg towers used to
jack the vessel up and down. Young was an experienced seaman
and experienced at working on lift boats. His job was
time of trial, Young had been employed off and on by OMC for
roughly 16 years, intermittently from 2003 until trial in
2019. During his employment Young had been subject to random
drug testing. In recent years Young had not failed a drug
test. But it is unclear how many times after 2015 Young was
actually selected for random drug testing. Even if selected
for drug testing, legal drugs taken pursuant to a valid
doctor's prescription would not trigger a positive
connection with his re-hire in September 2013, Young did not
divulge that he had pre-existing back pain. At the time Young
did not believe that he had significant back problems.
Young's medical records indicate, however, that he had
made the first of many visits to Dr. Anu Vellanki's
medical office in January 2010, wherein he complained of
non-radiating back pain of moderate intensity in his lumbar
is no evidence that Young sought medical treatment for back
pain until five years later when on January 5, 2015 he went
to the emergency room complaining of recurring low back pain.
The medical record associated with that visit states that the
problem had started “several weeks ago.” In fact,
in December 2014, while working aboard another of OMC's
vessels, Young requested and obtained 100 Aleve caplets.
January 6, 2015, the day immediately following the emergency
room visit, Young treated with Dr. Anu Vellanki and again
complained of low back pain, with a self-reported severity
level of 10/10. The symptoms were again characterized as a
chronic problem with an acute exacerbation. Dr. Vellanki
prescribed pain medication (Norco) and a muscle relaxer.
next time Young was off hitch was January 21, 2015, and on
January 28, 2015, he returned to Dr. Vellanki with the same
complaints. The doctor recommended physical therapy to Young,
and he recommended that Young see an orthopedist and seek
physical therapy. Dr. Vellanki prescribed Mr. Young 60
tramadol to be taken twice a day with two refills, and 45
cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxer, with another two refills.
This is an aggregate 90-day supply of pain medication and
worked until February 18, 2015. On February 24th,
Young saw an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Chad Loup. He again
complained of lower back pain. He was recommended physical
therapy and an MRI, and he was prescribed more medication. He
filled the prescription, but he did not get the MRI or attend
physical therapy. Instead, he returned to work.
March 24, 2015, while off hitch, Young went to the Willis
Knighton emergency room with the same complaints of back pain
for which he had seen Dr. Loup and Dr. Vellanki. He ...