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Randle v. Crosby Tugs, L.L.C.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

December 19, 2018

DAVID J. RANDLE, Plaintiff-Appellant
v.
CROSBY TUGS, L.L.C., Defendant-Appellee

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

          Before KING, ELROD, and HAYNES, Circuit Judges.

          PER CURIAM.

         While working aboard the M/V DELTA FORCE, David J. Randle suffered a stroke. The nature of his injury was not immediately apparent, and the captain of the vessel called 911. The emergency responders took Randle to a nearby hospital, where physicians failed to diagnose his condition correctly. As a result, Randle did not receive medication that might have improved his post-stroke recovery. Randle sued the owner of the M/V DELTA FORCE, arguing that it breached its duty under the Jones Act to provide Randle with prompt and adequate medical care. The district court granted the vessel owner's motion for summary judgment. We AFFIRM.

         I.

         Crosby Tugs, L.L.C. ("Crosby"), employed Randle as a seaman aboard the M/V DELTA FORCE. On the morning of Randle's stroke, the vessel was temporarily docked in Amelia, Louisiana. Randle had been unloading a grocery delivery onto the boat when he began to feel fatigued and lightheaded. He retreated to his cabin to rest. Shortly thereafter, a fellow crewmember heard a banging coming from Randle's cabin. The crewmember discovered Randle incapacitated on the cabin floor and unable to communicate. The crewmember immediately notified the captain, who quickly called 911.

         Acadian Ambulance Services ("Acadian") responded to the call. At the direction of the Louisiana Emergency Response Network ("LERN"), Acadian transported Randle to Teche Regional Medical Center ("TRMC"). Crosby did not instruct Acadian to take Randle to TRMC. Nor did Crosby hire, authorize, or otherwise contract with TRMC to administer medical care to its seamen.

         Although the Acadian paramedics suspected that Randle was suffering from a stroke, the TRMC physicians failed to diagnose his condition as such. After performing a CT scan without contrast and consulting a telemedicine physician in New Orleans, the TRMC physicians diagnosed Randle with a brain mass and transferred him to another hospital for further treatment. Randle's medical expert testified that TRMC's physicians could have "easily" diagnosed the stroke if they had administered a CT scan with contrast.

         Because the TRMC physicians failed to diagnose Randle's stroke correctly, they did not administer "tissue plasminogen activator," a medication that could have improved Randle's post-stroke recovery. To be effective, the medication must be administered within three hours of the stroke. By the time Randle's stroke was correctly diagnosed, it was too late for the medication to be effective.

         Randle is permanently disabled because of the stroke and needs constant custodial care. He brought suit against Crosby, arguing that Crosby negligently failed to provide prompt and adequate medical care; provided an unseaworthy vessel; and failed to provide maintenance-and-cure benefits.

         The district court granted Crosby's motion for partial summary judgment on Randle's negligence and unseaworthiness claims. The parties settled Randle's maintenance-and-cure claim prior to this appeal. On Randle's motion, the district court certified the partial summary judgment as a partial final judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(b), from which Randle could appeal.

         II.

         "We review a district court's grant of summary judgment de novo, applying the same standard on appeal as that applied below." Rogers v. Bromac Title Servs., L.L.C., 755 F.3d 347, 350 (5th Cir. 2014). Summary judgment is appropriate when "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute about a material fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury ...


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