95-1075 La.App. 3 Cir. 8/28/96, Louviere v. Woodson Const. Co.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
Citation679 So.2d 1013
Parties95-1075 La.App. 3 Cir
Decision Date28 August 1996

Page 1013

679 So.2d 1013
95-1075 La.App. 3 Cir. 8/28/96
Russell LOUVIERE, Plaintiff-Appellant,
No. 95-1075.
Court of Appeal of Louisiana,
Third Circuit.
Aug. 28, 1996.

Page 1014

Jacque Berchmans Pucheu, Jr., Eunice, for Russell Louviere.

Edwin Gustav Preis, Jr., Lafayette, for Woodson Construction Company.

David B. McCain, Lake Charles, for Insurance Company of North America.


[95-1075 La.App. 3 Cir. 1] GREMILLION, Judge.

This is an appeal by the plaintiff, Russell Louviere, from the trial court's decision granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Woodson Construction Company, finding that Woodson is Louviere's statutory employer. We affirm.


Woodson executed a written contract with Mobil Oil Exploration & Producing U.S., Inc. to extend an existing pipeline. Woodson and Laine Construction Company then purportedly entered into an oral agreement whereby Laine agreed to provide the labor, materials, and equipment required to complete the job. Louviere worked for Laine as a welder.

On August 5, 1989, while working on the pipeline project, Louviere sustained back injuries when he fell from a stairway while exiting a van used as a [95-1075 La.App. 3 Cir. 2] storage facility at the worksite. The stairs were not permanently attached to the van, which was owned by Woodson, and some question remains as to whether the stairs were owned by Woodson or Laine. Alleging that the stairs were defective, Louviere filed a personal injury suit against Woodson seeking damages. Woodson responded by filing a motion for summary judgment asserting the two-contract statutory employer immunity defense pursuant to La.R.S. 23:1061(A). The trial court, after hearing arguments on the matter, granted Woodson's motion finding the statutory employer immunity defense applicable. From this judgment, Louviere appeals and asserts the following assignments of error:

(1) The trial court erred in not requiring the defendants to meet the temporal requirement in order to successfully assert a two-contract statutory employer defense, and in ignoring the jurisprudence of two other circuits in the State of Louisiana which have required proof that the contract between the general contractor and the subcontractor be entered into subsequent to the contract between the general contractor and its obligee in order to establish immunity as a two-contract statutory employer; and

(2) The trial court erred in failing to consider whether or not the work of the subcontractor is specialized per se in determining whether or not the defendant, Woodson, was a two-contract statutory employer entitled to immunity under La.R.S. 23:1061 and La.R.S. 23:1032; and

(3) The trial court erred in failing to find that there were genuine issues of material fact to be resolved with regard to whether or not Woodson was the two-contract statutory employer of the plaintiff.


Appellate courts review summary judgments de novo applying the same criteria that govern the district court's consideration of whether summary judgment is appropriate. Schroeder v. Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University, 591 So.2d 342 (La.1991). Summary judgment should be granted only if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to material fact, and the [95-1075 La.App. 3 Cir. 3] mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. La.Code Civ.P. art. 966. Facts are material if they determine the outcome of the legal dispute. South Louisiana Bank v. Williams, 591 So.2d 375 (La.App. 3 Cir.1991), writ denied, 596 So.2d 211 (La.1992). The determination of the materiality of a particular fact must be made in the light of the applicable substantive law. Sun Belt Constructors v. T & R Dragline Service, Inc., 527 So.2d 350 (La.App. 5 Cir.1988).


Louviere asserts that there is a temporal requirement implicit in the two-contract statutory

Page 1015

employer immunity defense which creates a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the subcontract was entered into before or after the general contract was created between Woodson and Mobil.

At the time of the accident, 1 La.R.S. 23:1061 and La.R.S. 23:1032, read as follows:

§ 1061. Principal contractors; liability

Where any person (in this section referred to as principal) undertakes to execute any work, which is a part of his trade, business, or occupation or which he had contracted to perform, and contracts with any person (in this section referred to as contractor) for the execution by or under the contractor of the whole or any part of the work undertaken by the principal, the principal shall be liable to pay to any employee employed in the execution of the work or to his dependent, any compensation under this Chapter which he would have been liable to pay if the employee had been immediately employed by him; and where compensation is claimed from, or proceedings are taken against, the principal, then, in the application of this Chapter reference to the principal shall be substituted for reference to the employer, except that the amount of compensation shall be calculated with reference to the earnings of the employee under the employer by whom he is immediately employed.

(Emphasis added.)

[95-1075 La.App. 3 Cir. 4] § 1032. Exclusiveness of rights and remedies; employer's liability to prosecution under other laws

The rights and remedies herein granted to an employee or his dependent on account of an injury, or compensable sickness or disease for which he is entitled to compensation under this Chapter, shall be exclusive of all other rights and remedies or such employee, his personal representatives, dependents, or relations, against his employer, or any principal or any officer, director, stockholder, partner or employee of such employer or principal, for said injury, or compensable sickness or disease. For purposes of the Section, the word "principal" shall be defined as any person who undertakes to execute any work which is a part of his trade, business or occupation in which he was engaged at the time of the injury, or which he had contracted to perform and contracts with any person for the execution thereof.

(Emphasis added.)

Louviere asserts that the phrase which he had contracted to perform and contracts with any person for the execution indicates a temporal requirement that the general contract be in place prior to the creation of a subcontract and absent this sequence, a general contractor cannot avail itself of La.R.S. 23:1032.

This temporal requirement first appeared in Davis v. Material Delivery Service, Inc., 506 So.2d 1243 (La.App. 1 Cir.1987). The court in Davis determined that the contracts at the center of that dispute did not fit into the two-contract scenario as described in footnote three of Berry v. Holston Well Service, Inc., 488 So.2d 934, 936 (La.1986), which reads:

The discussion throughout the remainder of this opinion does not deal with what may be called the "two-contract" statutory employer defense. La.R.S. 23:1032, 1061. In that situation, an owner contracts with a general contractor to do a job. The general contractor in turn contracts with a subcontractor for the "sub" to do the whole or a part of the total job contracted by the "general." Under this contractual relationship, the contract work of the "sub" has been held in decisions of the intermediate courts to be automatically within the trade, business or occupation of the "general." See Lewis, [v. Exxon Corp., 441 So.2d 192 (La.1983)] supra (in dicta); Borne v. Ebasco Services, Inc., 482 So.2d 40 (La.App. 5th Cir.1986); Thornton v. Avondale Shipyards, Inc., 479 So.2d 7 (La.App. 5th Cir.1985); Brown v. Ebasco Services, Inc., 461 So.2d 443 (La.App. 5th Cir.1984), writ denied in part 462 So.2d 1235 (La.1985); McCorkle v. Gulf States

Page 1016

Utilities Co., 457 So.2d 682 (La.App. 1st Cir.1984); Jurls v. Lama [95-1075 La.App. 3 Cir. 5] Drilling Co., Inc., 457 So.2d 135 (La.App.2d Cir.), writ denied 460 So.2d 1045 (La.1984); Certain v. Equitable Equipment Co., 453 So.2d 292 (La.App. 4th Cir.), writ denied 459 So.2d 535 (La.1984); Richard v. Weill Construction Co., Inc., 446 So.2d 943 (La.App. 3d Cir.), writ denied 449 So.2d 1356 (La.1984).

The Davis court arrived at this determination after noting that the seven cases cited in footnote three of Berry "involved a particular general contract and a subsequent subcontract to do a part of the work included in the general contract." (Footnote omitted.) Davis, 506 So.2d at 1248. With all due respect to our brethren of the First Circuit, we must disagree with them...

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3 cases
  • Allen v. EXHIBITION HALL AUTHORITY, 2002-C-1072.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Louisiana
    • April 9, 2003
    ...the contrary holding of the Third Circuit Court of Appeal in Louviere v. Woodson Construction Company, 95-1075 (La.App. 3 Cir. 8/28/96), 679 So.2d 1013, writ denied, 96-2387 (La.12/6/96), 684 So.2d 929, which ruled that the temporal requirement was 842 So.2d 377 not a necessary prerequisite......
  • Allen v. STATE EX REL. EXHIBITION HALL AUTH., 2000-CA-1552.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana (US)
    • March 20, 2002
    ...we follow our brethren in the Third Circuit as articulated in Louviere v. Woodson Construction Company, 97-1075 (La.App. 3 Cir.1996), 679 So.2d 1013, 1018. In Louviere, the plaintiff argued that the trial court erred in granting the Motion for Summary Judgment because there was still a genu......
  • Louviere v. Woodson Const. Co.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Louisiana
    • December 6, 1996
    ...12/6/96 Russell LOUVIERE v. WOODSON CONSTRUCTION COMPANY. No. 96-C-2387. Supreme Court of Louisiana. Dec. 6, 1996. Prior report: La.App., 679 So.2d 1013. In re Louviere, Russell;--Plaintiff(s); applying for writ of certiorari and/or review; Parish of Cameron, 38th Judicial District Court, N......

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