Hefren v. McDermott, Inc., No. 15–30980

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation820 F.3d 767
PartiesJames HEFREN, Plaintiff–Appellant v. McDERMOTT, INC., Defendant–Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 15–30980
Decision Date25 April 2016

820 F.3d 767

James HEFREN, Plaintiff–Appellant
v.
McDERMOTT, INC., Defendant–Appellee.

No. 15–30980

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

April 25, 2016.


820 F.3d 768

Timothy John Young, Esq., Young Firm, New Orleans, LA, for Plaintiff–Appellant.

Edward Joseph Koehl, Jr., Catherine Cordes Darden, William P. Wynne, Esq., Jones Walker, L.L.P., New Orleans, LA, for Defendant–Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, USDC No. 6:12–CV–1899.

Before KING, CLEMENT, and OWEN, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM:

Plaintiff–Appellant James Hefren filed suit in state court against Defendant–Appellee McDermott, Inc., alleging personal injuries from McDermott's design and construction of the Front Runner Spar, an offshore drilling and production platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Following removal of the case to federal court, McDermott filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Hefren's claims were perempted under Louisiana state law and could no longer be brought. The district court granted the motion for summary judgment, and Hefren now appeals. For the following reasons, we AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The instant case arises out of personal injuries allegedly sustained by Plaintiff–Appellant James Hefren while he was employed by Murphy Exploration & Production Company, USA (Murphy), as a lead operator on the Front Runner Spar. In March 2002, Murphy contracted with Defendant–Appellee McDermott, Inc. (McDermott) to have McDermott design and construct the Front Runner Spar, an offshore facility to be used by Murphy for removing and processing petroleum from

820 F.3d 769

the seabed of the Gulf of Mexico.1 In May 2004, Murphy accepted delivery of the Front Runner Spar and affixed it to the seafloor at the outer continental shelf adjacent to the State of Louisiana where it has remained since, operating as a platform facility with three decks used for crew quarters, drilling, and production.

According to Hefren, he suffered significant injury on or about June 6, 2011, on the Front Runner Spar when a flange of a valve struck him in the face. Following his injury, Hefren filed suit against Murphy and McDermott in the 16th Judicial District Court for the Parish of St. Mary in Louisiana on June 4, 2012.2 In his complaint, Hefren invoked jurisdiction under the Jones Act and general maritime law and asserted claims for negligence. Hefren alleged that both Murphy and McDermott failed to take precautions for Hefren's safety and specifically alleged that McDermott failed to properly design and construct the Front Runner Spar. Murphy then removed the matter to the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on July 12, 2012, asserting diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 and jurisdiction under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA). Hefren subsequently filed a motion to remand his case to state court on August 13, 2012, arguing that he was a seaman under the Jones Act and that Jones Act claims could not be removed to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.3 However, the motion was denied on October 25, 2012, by a magistrate judge who concluded that Hefren could not maintain a claim under the Jones Act because the Front Runner Spar was not a vessel and therefore Hefren was not a seaman. On May 2, 2013, the district court entered summary judgment for Murphy, dismissing Hefren's tort claims against Murphy as barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of the Longshore & Harbor Workers' Compensation Act.

On February 17, 2014, McDermott filed its own motion for summary judgment, seeking the dismissal of Hefren's claims against it with prejudice. McDermott argued that Hefren's claims were barred or perempted under La. Stat. Ann. § 9:2772, which provides that no action arising out of deficiencies in the design or construction of immovable property can be brought five years after the date on which the property is accepted by the owner.4 Because Hefren's

820 F.3d 770

claims—relating to deficiencies in the Front Runner Spar—were brought in 2013 and Murphy took possession of the Front Runner Spar in 2004, McDermott argued that Hefren's claim was perempted and that McDermott was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In response, Hefren argued that La. Stat. Ann. § 9:2772 did not apply to his claims against McDermott because the Front Runner Spar was not immovable as only its mooring system was attached to the seabed, allowing it to be unmoored and transported across the ocean. Hefren also argued that he asserted claims outside of the scope of that statute when he claimed that McDermott failed to identify safety hazards to Murphy employees.

The district court granted McDermott's motion for summary judgment and dismissed Hefren's claims against McDermott with prejudice on April 9, 2014. Examining the undisputed facts, the court noted that the Front Runner Spar was “a structure permanently affixed to the seabed and not a vessel.” The district court then noted that, although Louisiana courts and the Fifth Circuit had never concluded whether spars were immovable property, these courts had held that fixed, offshore platforms permanently affixed to the sea floor were immovable property and that spars were akin to offshore platforms. Based on these cases and certain features of the Front Runner Spar, the court held that the Spar was a “building” and constituted immovable property under La. Stat. Ann. § 9:2772. Among other features, the court noted that the Spar's mooring system was permanently attached to the seabed, the Spar was intended to be at its location for a twenty-year lifetime, it would take months of planning and work to remove the Spar from its anchored position in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Spar had remained fixed in its original location since being attached—even remaining there through several hurricanes. Regarding Hefren's assertion that some of his claims were not within La. Stat. Ann. § 9:2772, the court

820 F.3d 771

held that these claims were essentially failure to warn...

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56 practice notes
  • Stockton v. Christus Health Se. Tex., CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:15-CV-333
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 3 février 2017
    ...material fact and the movant is entitled toPage 9 judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a); accord Hefren v. McDermott, Inc., 820 F.3d 767, 771 (5th Cir. 2016). The parties seeking summary judgment bear the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for their motion and i......
  • Ranolls v. Dewling, CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:15–CV–111
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 22 septembre 2016
    ...any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a) ; accord Hefren v. McDermott, Inc. , 820 F.3d 767, 771 (5th Cir. 2016). The parties seeking summary judgment bear the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for their motion and i......
  • Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. Steel Painters LLC, CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:18-CV-303
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 14 janvier 2020
    ...the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a) ; Parrish , 917 F.3d at 378 ; Hefren v. McDermott, Inc. , 820 F.3d 767, 771 (5th Cir. 2016). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and ident......
  • Bitco Gen. Ins. Corp. v. Acadia Ins. Co., CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:18-CV-526
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 16 décembre 2019
    ...the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a) ; Parrish , 917 F.3d at 378 ; Hefren v. McDermott, Inc. , 820 F.3d 767, 771 (5th Cir. 2016). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and ident......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
54 cases
  • Bitco Gen. Ins. Corp. v. Acadia Ins. Co., CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:18-CV-526
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 16 décembre 2019
    ...the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a) ; Parrish , 917 F.3d at 378 ; Hefren v. McDermott, Inc. , 820 F.3d 767, 771 (5th Cir. 2016). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and ident......
  • Stockton v. Christus Health Se. Tex., CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:15-CV-333
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 3 février 2017
    ...material fact and the movant is entitled toPage 9 judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a); accord Hefren v. McDermott, Inc., 820 F.3d 767, 771 (5th Cir. 2016). The parties seeking summary judgment bear the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for their motion and i......
  • Ranolls v. Dewling, CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:15–CV–111
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 22 septembre 2016
    ...any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a) ; accord Hefren v. McDermott, Inc. , 820 F.3d 767, 771 (5th Cir. 2016). The parties seeking summary judgment bear the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for their motion and i......
  • Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n v. Steel Painters LLC, CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:18-CV-303
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • 14 janvier 2020
    ...the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." FED. R. CIV. P. 56(a) ; Parrish , 917 F.3d at 378 ; Hefren v. McDermott, Inc. , 820 F.3d 767, 771 (5th Cir. 2016). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion and ident......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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