Justia U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
Moreno v. LG Electronics, USA Inc.
Plaintiff filed suit against her employer, LG entities, and others after plaintiff suffered a disabling injury at her workplace in Mexico. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court's order setting aside a clerk's entry of default against LG USA, grant of defendant's motion to dismiss on the basis of forum non conveniens, and denial as moot of plaintiff's motion for entry of default against LG Reynosa. The court affirmed the judgment, concluding that plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that the district court erred by setting aside LG USA’s default and granting its forum non conveniens motion in a single order. The court further concluded that, even assuming that the district court committed a procedural error by failing to give notice that it would rule on LG USA’s motion, plaintiff cannot demonstrate that any such error prejudiced her because she has presented no meritorious argument against dismissal. View "Moreno v. LG Electronics, USA Inc." on Justia Law
Flagg v. Elliot
Plaintiff's suit stemmed from his allegations of negligence following foot surgery. After the case was removed from state court, the district court dismissed the complaint against the Manufacturing Defendants, and five fictitious insurance companies. Plaintiff appealed. The court concluded that the fact that the medical review panel apparently still has yet to issue its opinion does not negate any “reasonable basis for predicting that plaintiffs might establish liability . . . against the instate defendants.” Therefore, the court concluded that, while the case against the Medical Defendants may be premature, they are not “improperly joined” within the meaning of the case law. The court vacated and remanded to the federal district court to remand the case to state court. View "Flagg v. Elliot" on Justia Law
Barto v. Shore Construction
After plaintiff, an employee of Shore, was hurt while working on a derrick barge operated by McDermott, plaintiff filed suit against both Shore and McDermott under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 30104. Plaintiff also filed suit against Shore for cure under maritime law. The district court entered judgment against McDermott and Shore. Both defendants appealed. McDermott asks the court to render judgment, reducing the future lost wages award from $300,000 to $209,533. Plaintiff’s own expert economist determined that his net future lost wages would be $209,533 if he worked as an unarmed security guard and retired at age 55.8. Therefore, the court reversed as to this issue and found it appropriate to render judgment in the amount of $209,533 for future lost wages. The court affirmed in all other respects, including issues of Jones Act liability, comparative negligence, future general damages, and cure. View "Barto v. Shore Construction" on Justia Law
Johnson v. PPI Tech. Serv., L.P.
After plaintiff was shot and seriously injured by a Nigerian gunman who invaded the drilling rig plaintiff was working aboard, he filed suit alleging that the negligence of other rig hands caused his injury and that GSF, a corporate parent and indirect subsidiary of the drilling company, was vicariously liable for such negligence under the general maritime law. The district court granted summary judgment for GSF. The court affirmed the judgment, concluding that GSF may not be held vicariously liable for the rig hands’ alleged negligence because no reasonable jury could find an employment relationship between GSF and the rig hands. The court found that the record contains no evidence of most of the factors that would support a finding of an employment relationship where there is no evidence that GSF had the right to direct the rig hands or to control the details of their work; there is no evidence that GSF hired or had the right to fire the rig hands; and there is no evidence that GSF furnished the rig or the equipment used on the rig. View "Johnson v. PPI Tech. Serv., L.P." on Justia Law
Wilcox v. Max Welders, L.L.C.
Plaintiff, an employer of Max Welders, was working as the borrowed employee of Wild Well, a subsidiary of Superior, when he sustained injuries while welding on an offshore platform. Plaintiff filed suit against all defendants under, inter alia, the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 30104. Superior and Wild Well filed a cross-claim for indemnity from Max Welders pursuant to a Master Service Agreement (MSA) or, in the alternative, Vessel Boarding, Utilization and Hold Harmless Agreement (VBA) between Superior and Max Welders. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to defendants on the Jones Act claims because it found that plaintiff is not a Jones Act seaman. The court also affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Max Welders on indemnity because 1) the MSA was void under Louisiana law and 2) the VBA did not apply to plaintiff’s work. View "Wilcox v. Max Welders, L.L.C." on Justia Law
Young v. BP
Plaintiff, a crew member aboard a supply vessel that was mud-roped to the Deepwater Horizon and was off-loading drilling mud on the night of the 2010 blowout, filed suit claiming that he sustained physical injuries when the explosion rocked the vessel and threw him against a bulkhead. On appeal, BP challenged the district court's judgment in favor of plaintiff where the district court, over BP's objection, enforced a putative settlement agreement against BP in plaintiff's favor. The court held that the parties formed a binding settlement agreement; the district court correctly excused plaintiff’s failure to sign the release document where BP's refusal to send plaintiff the release excused that failure; but the district court should have held an evidentiary hearing to determine whether plaintiff fraudulently induced BP into entering the settlement agreement. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court’s order in part, but vacated the judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Young v. BP" on Justia Law
Alexander v. Express Energy
Plaintiff was injured while employed as a lead hand/operator in Express's plug and abandonment department, which specializes in decommissioned oil wells on various platforms off the coast of Louisiana. Plaintiff filed suit under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. 30104 et seq., against Express and others. The district court entered judgment against plaintiff, concluding that plaintiff is not a seaman and the district court dismissed plaintiff's claims against Express with prejudice. The court concluded that plaintiff failed to carry his burden of showing that he is a seaman where the undisputed evidence demonstrated that approximately 65% of plaintiff's job involved a fix platform only, without the help of an adjacent vessel. Even on the other jobs involving a vessel adjacent to plaintiff's platform, his work occurred mostly on the platform. Plaintiff failed to prove that he actually worked on a vessel at least 30% of the time. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Alexander v. Express Energy" on Justia Law
Asignacion v. Rickmers Genoa Schiffahrtsgesellschaft mbH & Cie KG
Rickmers Genoa Schiffahrtsgesellschaft mbH & Cie KG (Rickmers) sought to enforce a Philippine arbitral award given to Lito Martinez Asignacion for maritime injuries. Asignacion sued Rickmers in Louisiana state court to recover for his injuries. Rickmers filed an exception seeking to enforce the arbitration clause of Asignacion’s contract. The state court granted the exception, stayed litigation, and ordered arbitration in the Philippines. The district court refused to enforce the award pursuant to the public-policy defense found in the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, and the prospective-waiver doctrine. Rickmers appeals. Finding that the district court erred in reaching its conclusion, the Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded for the district court to enforce the award. View "Asignacion v. Rickmers Genoa Schiffahrtsgesellschaft mbH & Cie KG" on Justia Law
PoolRe Insurance Corp. v. Organizational Strategies, Inc.
This arbitration case stemmed from disputes over Appellee Organizational Strategies, Inc.'s (OSI) captive insurance program, created with Appellants Capstone Insurance Management, Ltd., Capstone Associated Services, and Capstone Associated Services (Wyoming), LP's (collectively, "Capstone") assistance. Appellant PoolRe, managed by Capstone, provided insurance services to OSI's newly created captive insurance companies. Capstone and OSI entered into contracts requiring AAA arbitration, whereas PoolRe and the captive insurance companies entered into contracts requiring ICC arbitration. An arbitrator joined all of the parties for arbitration under AAA rules. Because the arbitrator acted contrary to the express provisions of the PoolRe arbitration agreements, the district court held that arbitrator exceeded his authority and, pursuant to 9 U.S.C. 10, vacated the award. Finding no reversible error, the Fifth Circuit affirmed. View "PoolRe Insurance Corp. v. Organizational Strategies, Inc." on Justia Law
United States v. Kaluza
A blowout of oil, natural gas, and mud occurred in 2010 during deepwater drilling operations at the Macondo well, located on the Outer Continental Shelf (“OCS”) in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. At the time of the blowout, the Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig chartered by BP, plc. from Transocean Ltd., was attached to the Macondo well. Eleven men died from the resulting explosions and fires on the Deepwater Horizon. Defendants Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine were “well site leaders,” the highest ranking BP employees working on the rig. Defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Louisiana on 23 counts, including 11 counts of seaman’s manslaughter. The district court granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss for failure to charge an offense because neither defendant fell within the meaning of the criminal statute. The government appealed this determination. Because the Fifth Circuit agreed that neither defendant fell within the meaning of the phrase “[e]very . . . other person employed on any . . . vessel,” the Court affirmed. View "United States v. Kaluza" on Justia Law