Thompson v. Yellow Fin Marine Services, LLC
ORDER AND REASONS denying 78 Motion for Reconsideration. Signed by Judge Sarah S. Vance on 5/11/2017. (cg)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
RICHARD J. THOMPSON
YELLOW FIN MARINE SERVICES,
SECTION “R” (2)
ORDER AND REASONS
Plaintiff Richard J. Thompson moves for reconsideration 1 of the
Court’s order2 denying his motion for a new trial under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 59(a). In its order, the Court rejected Thompson’s argument that
the jury’s interrogatory responses were inconsistent. 3 Thompson now moves
for reconsideration of that order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e).
For the following reasons, Thompson’s motion is denied.
A district court has considerable discretion to grant or to deny a motion
under Rule 59(e). See Edward H. Bohlin Co. v. Banning Co., 6 F.3d 350, 355
(5th Cir. 1993).
A court’s reconsideration of an earlier order is an
extraordinary remedy, which should be granted sparingly. See Fields v. Pool
R. Doc. 78.
R. Doc. 77.
Offshore, Inc., 1998 WL 43217, *2 (E.D. La. Mar. 19, 1998); Bardwell v.
George G. Sharp, Inc., 1995 WL 517120, *1 (E.D. La. Aug. 30, 1995). The
Court must “strike the proper balance between the need for finality and the
need to render a just decision on the basis of all the facts.” Edward H. Bohlin
Co., 6 F.3d at 355. A moving party must satisfy at least one of the following
criteria to prevail on a Rule 59(e) motion: (1) the motion is necessary to
correct a manifest error of fact or law; (2) the movant presents newly
discovered or previously unavailable evidence; (3) the motion is necessary in
order to prevent manifest injustice; and (4) the motion is justified by an
intervening change in the controlling law. See Fidelity & Deposit Co. of Md.
v. Omni Bank, 1999 WL 970526, *3 (E.D. La. Oct. 21, 1999); Fields, 1998 WL
43217 at *2.
As explained more completely in the Court’s earlier order, Thompson
worked for defendant Yellow Fin Marine Services, LLC as a boat captain. In
his complaint, Thompson sought recovery from Yellow Fin for alleged
injuries sustained when the K-MARINE XI, one of Yellow Fin’s boats,
collided with an energy platform. Thompson was serving as captain of the KMARINE XI at the time of the collision, and Yellow Fin counterclaimed for
damage to the ship.
In its verdict form, the jury found that Yellow Fin was not responsible
for any injuries to Thompson. 4 As to Yellow Fin’s counterclaims, the jury
found Thompson liable, but found that Thompson was only 50 percent at
fault for the collision. 5 The jury assigned the remaining 50 percent of fault
to Yellow Fin. 6 In his motion for new trial, Thompson argued that these
findings are inconsistent, and that Thompson is therefore entitled to a new
In denying Thompson’s motion, the Court noted that Yellow Fin
argued two theories in its defense: (1) that Thompson, rather than Yellow
Fin, was responsible for the collision; and (2) that Thompson was not injured
in the collision, and that Thompson’s alleged health issues in fact predate the
accident. The Court found that the jury’s verdict is consistent with its
crediting the latter defense. In other words, the jury could have found that
both Yellow Fin and Thompson were responsible for the collision, but that
Thompson was not injured in the collision and that he therefore cannot
recover on his claim.
In his motion for reconsideration, Thompson makes two arguments.
First, Thompson simply rehashes his argument that the jury’s verdict is
R. Doc. 65.
inconsistent. This argument is rejected for the reasons offered in the Court’s
Thompson’s second argument is that there was insufficient evidence to
support a finding that Thompson’s injuries predated the accident. In
determining whether the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient to support
the verdict, the Court must “draw all reasonable inferences and resolve all
credibility determinations in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party.” Foradori v. Harris, 523 F.3d 477, 485 (5th Cir. 2008) (citation
omitted). The jury’s verdict must be upheld “[u]nless the evidence is of such
quality and weight that reasonable and impartial jurors could not arrive at
such a verdict.” Ferrara Fire Apparatus, Inc. v. JLG Indus., Inc., 581 F.
App’x 440, 443 (5th Cir. 2014).
Here, there was ample evidence to support a finding that Thompson’s
injuries predated the collision aboard the K MARINE XI.
Thompson testified that he suffered pain only after the collision, “[t]he jury
was under no obligation to believe the testimony of [Thompson] as to his . . .
pain, even if that testimony were undisputed.” Semper v. Santos, 845 F.2d
1233, 1237 (3d Cir. 1988); see also id. (“[T]he trier of fact, whether the issue
be one of an excessive or inadequate verdict, is at liberty within the bounds
of reason to reject entirely the uncontradicted testimony of a witness which
does not convince the trier of its merit.”). Furthermore, to the extent Dr.
Gregory Brick, Thompson’s treating physician, offered any opinion on
causation, that opinion was explicitly based on Thompson’s own account of
his pain.7 Dr. Brick also testified that Thompson suffered from degenerative
arthritis in both hips and that this condition developed before the collision. 8
Finally, Dr. Brick also agreed that he does not “relate” any pain in
Thompson’s left hip to the collision. 9 Based on this evidence, the jury was
free to conclude that Thompson’s injuries predated the collision.
Accordingly, Thompson has shown no manifest error of fact or law in the
Court’s prior order.
For these reasons, plaintiff Richard J. Thompson’s motion for
reconsideration is DENIED.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this _____ day of May, 2017.
SARAH S. VANCE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
See R. Doc. 80 at 19. (“Q: So, Doctor, assuming Richard’s pain and
symptoms began following the accident on August 1st, 2014, isn’t it true that
you would relate the need for the hip replacement to Richard being thrown
into the bulkhead at the time of the boat accident? A: Yes.”) (emphasis
Id. at 23.
Id. at 21.
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