from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Louisiana
REAVLEY, ELROD, and SOUTHWICK, Circuit Judges.
REAVLEY, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
James "J.J." LaFleur fell 50 feet to his death
after stepping through a hole in a decommissioned oil
platform. The platform sat atop a barge chartered by Manson
Gulf, L.L.C., who ordered the hole's creation but did not
cover the hole or warn J.J. of its existence.
spouse alleged negligence on the part of Manson and sought
damages. The district court, however, granted summary
judgment for Manson, finding no liability under any of the
three Scindia duties-the duties a vessel owner owes
to a longshoreman. Because we conclude a fact issue precluded
summary judgment with respect to the duty to warn of hidden
dangers, we reverse.
Gulf, L.L.C. is in the business of decommissioning
oil-drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. In 2015, Manson
acquired one such platform, the BA A-23-A, from
Freeport-McMoRan Oil & Gas. Manson extracted the
50-foot-tall, four-leg platform and placed the structure on a
chartered barge. To lift the structure, Manson ordered four
holes cut in the platform's grating adjacent to each of
the support legs. Rigging chains could then be passed through
the holes and around the legs to take hold of the platform.
Each hole was approximately two feet by two feet. Manson left
the holes uncovered and unmarked.
American Recycling Service (MARS) is in the business of
dismantling steel structures and selling the metal for scrap.
MARS agreed to purchase and scrap the BA A-23-A platform, and
Manson delivered the structure to MARS's dock, located on
Bayou Black, Louisiana.
morning of June 16, 2015, a Manson project engineer, Dustin
Clement, warned MARS of oil in the platform's pipes but
not of the unmarked holes. Afterwards, Clement left
MARS's dock and no Manson personnel remained. Jeff Smith,
a MARS foreman in charge of riggers and cutters, then boarded
the platform (still atop the barge) to locate the presence of
oil. After Smith investigated for ten minutes, J.J. LaFleur
joined Smith aboard the platform to lend a hand. J.J. was an
independent contractor, employed by MARS to take inventories,
do inspections, and perform other miscellaneous tasks.
Smith and J.J. walked across the platform, they discussed the
oil dilemma and looked at the pipes that ran overhead. While
turning, J.J. stepped through an unmarked hole. Smith, then
eight feet behind, attempted to intervene, but it was too
late-J.J. fell 50 feet to the barge's deck and died from
his injuries. Pictures of the structure and hole in the
grating are attached. See Appendix, figs. 1-3.
J.J.'s death, Manson filed a complaint seeking
exoneration or limitation from liability. MARS answered the
complaint and asserted various claims and defenses. And Angie
LaFleur, J.J.'s surviving spouse, filed claims for
damages against Manson and MARS, alleging negligence under
both maritime and Louisiana law. Manson and MARS then moved
for summary judgment, and the district court granted both
parties' motions, finding neither liable under § 905
of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act
(LHWCA). The LaFleur claimants appealed only from the summary
judgment with respect to Manson.
Standard of Review
review a "district court's grant of summary judgment
de novo applying the same standards as the district
court." DePree v. Saunders, 588 F.3d 282, 286
(5th Cir. 2009). Summary judgment is appropriate if "the
movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the ...