Costanza et al v. Accutrans, Inc.
ORDER AND REASONS granting 23 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Susie Morgan. (bwn)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
CALVIN M. COSTANZA, ET AL.,
SECTION: “E” (5)
ORDER AND REASONS
Before the Court is Defendant Accutrans, Inc.’s (“Accutrans”) motion for summary
judgment.1 The motion is opposed. 2 For the following reasons, the Court grants the motion.
Accutrans provides stevedoring services to various companies operating in the
Gulf of Mexico. 3 Plaintiff Calvin Costanza worked as a tankerman for Accutrans from
April 2012 until January 2016. 4 His duties included “loading and/or unloading cargo
from barges, mooring the barges to the dock, monitoring the drafts of the barges to make
sure they stayed afloat, and pumping out the ballast tanks if the barges took on water
during the loading and/or unloading process.” 5 When Accutrans assigned Mr. Costanza
to a particular barge, he was in charge and given total control over it. For the most part,
these barges were “special purpose vessels designed to transport hazardous cargo,” and
Mr. Costanza was “regularly being exposed to toxic substances.” 6 In January 2015, Mr.
Costanza was diagnosed with cancer. 7 Plaintiffs allege Mr. Costanza’s cancer is a direct
R. Doc. 23.
R. Doc. 24.
3 R. Doc. 12-1 at 1.
4 R. Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 3; R. Doc. 16-6; R. Doc. 12-1.
5 R. Doc. 16 at 1–2.
6 R. Doc. 16 at 12–13.
7 R. Doc. 1-1 at ¶ 6.
result of his “expos[ure] to toxic and carcinogenic substances” “while in the course and
scope of his employment.” 8
Plaintiffs filed the instant matter in the 24th Judicial District Court for the Parish
of Jefferson, State of Louisiana on May 8, 2017 pursuant to the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. §
688. 9 In their state court petition, Plaintiffs alleged Mr. Costanza “was employed as a
seaman within the meaning of the Jones Act and the General Maritime Law.” 10 On June
9, 2017, Accutrans removed the action to this Court, 11 contending Plaintiffs may not seek
relief under the Jones Act, as Mr. Costanza’s seaman status was fraudulently pleaded. 12
Plaintiffs then filed a motion to remand the case to state court. 13 On October 24, 2017, the
Court denied Plaintiffs’ motion, finding that “‘there is no possibility that Plaintiffs would
be able to establish a cause of action’ under the Jones Act.” 14 On November 9, 2017,
Accutrans filed the instant motion for summary judgment, contending the Longshore and
Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”), the exclusive remedy in this case, bars
Plaintiffs’ Jones Act claims.
LAW & ANALYSIS
Having previously determined Mr. Costanza was not a Jones Act seaman when he
incurred his injuries, the Court finds Plaintiffs’ claims are exclusively governed by the
LHWCA. 15 The LHWCA reads in pertinent part,
Id. at ¶ 5, 7.
R. Doc. 1-1.
10 Id. at ¶ 4.
11 R. Doc. 1.
12 R. Doc. 12.
13 R. Doc. 8.
14 R. Doc. 22 at 10.
15 33 U.S.C. § 903(a); see Swanson v. Marra Brothers, Inc., 328 U.S. 1, 6–7 (1946) (acknowledging that
Congress had expressed its intention to “confine the benefits of the Jones Act to the members of the crew
of a vessel plying in navigable waters and to substitute for the right of recovery recognized by the Haverty
case only such rights to compensation as are given by [the LHWCA]” and that Congress “explicitly den[ied]
The liability of an employer prescribed in section 4 [33 U.S.C. § 904] shall
be exclusive and in place of all other liability of such employer to the
employee, his legal representative, husband or wife, parents, dependents,
next of kin, and anyone otherwise entitled to recover damages from such
employer at law or in admiralty on account of such injury or death, except
that if an employer fails to secure payment of compensation as required by
this Act. 16
Thus, because Mr. Costanza is a longshoreman, not a Jones Act seaman, Plaintiffs are
barred from seeking relief under the Jones Act. 17 Because Plaintiffs filed their claims
against Accutrans pursuant only to the Jones Act, Accutrans is entitled to summary
judgment on these claims.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Accutrans’ motion for summary judgment is
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 5th day of December, 2017.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a right of recovery under the Jones Act to maritime workers not members of a crew who are injured on
board a vessel”); see also South Chicago Coal & Dock Co. v. Bassett, 309 U.S. 251, 257 (1940).
16 33 U.S.C. § 905(a).
17 Chandris, Inc. v. Latsis, 515 U.S. 347 (1995); McDermott Int’l, Inc. v. Wilander, 498 U.S. 337 (1991).
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