Lesley C. Domingue v. Offshore Service Vessels, LLC and Intermoor, Inc


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[B]Case Name: [/B]Lesley C. Domingue v. Offshore Service Vessels, LLC and Intermoor, Inc.
[B]Date Decided: [/B]October 7, 2009
[B]Court: [/B]U.S.D.C. Eastern District of Louisiana
[B]Judge: [/B]Judge Lemmon
[B]Citation: [/B]2009 WL 3254147[B]Background:
[/B]Plaintiff, Lesley C. Domingue (“Domingue”), filed this action against Offshore Service Vessels LLC (“Offshore”), owner and operator of [I]M/V Alex Chouset[/I], and Intermoor Inc. with whom Offshore operated the vessel with under a Master Service Contract. Domingue filed the complaint against Offshore alleging negligence and unseaworthiness and against Intermoor for negligence under the Jones Act and maintenance and cure.

Domingue, an employee of Intermoor, was working as a rigger on the day of his injury. Domingue sustained injuries to his back, neck, and shoulders as he lifted a 250-pound, three inch link of chain on the back deck of the vessel.

Offshore filed a cross claim against Intermoor for defense and indemnity under the Master Vessel Access Agreement and for summary judgment against Domingue’s claims of negligence and unseaworthiness.

[B]Issue:
[/B]Did this Court grant Offshore’s motion for summary judgment against Domingue’s claims of negligence and unseaworthiness?

[B]Held:
[/B]Domingue contended that Offshore breached its duty to provide him with a safe place to work specifically, arguing that Offshore failed to provide access to the tugger to break the link and to a crew member to assist him in separating the link.

Offshore countered that it is not responsible for Intermoor’s specialized operations as an independent contractor and it did not supervise Domingue or provide tools to accomplish the operations.

This Court found that Offshore provided for work space on the deck of the vessel but did not provide tools and equipment. Furthermore, this Court found that Offshore had no duty to supervise Intermoor’s crew and no request was made of Offshore personnel to render any assistance so therefore, Offshore fulfilled its duty to provide Domingue with a safe place to work. Moreover, Domingue failed to establish that there was a genuine issue for trial on its negligence claim because he has not shown that Offshore owed him a duty which was breached.

Offshore also contended that Domingue has failed to establish or present evidence establishing that the vessel was unseaworthy at the time of the accident. Offshore contended that Domingue has alleged only an [I]isolated act [/I]which will not support a claim for unseaworthiness.

This Court found that Domingue did not present evidence of circumstances aboard the vessel that would render the vessel unseaworthy. The isolated act of lifting the kenter link alone resulting in injury does not establish unseaworthiness.

Accordingly this Court granted Offshore’s motion for summary judgment because Domingue failed to present genuine issues of material fact that Offshore was negligence or that its vessel was unseaworthy.

[B]Comment:
Unseaworthiness, as explained by this Court, is a [I]condition[/I]. Accordingly, how the unseaworthiness (condition) came into being by negligence or otherwise is irrelevant to the owner’s liability for personal injuries resulting from it. [/B]

[B]Unseaworthiness might arise from defective gear, appurtenances in disrepair, or an unfit crew. An [U]isolated act[/U] of negligence does not establish unseaworthiness.[/B]

[B]Steve Gordon*

[/B]

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