Sanchez-Munoz v. Motiva Enterprises LLP et al
ORDER AND REASONS granting 10 Motion for Summary Judgment. The plaintiff's claims against Motiva and Shell are hereby dismissed. Signed by Judge Martin L.C. Feldman on 1/5/2018. (clc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
MOTIVA ENTERPRISES LLC, ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
Local Rule 7.5 of the Eastern District of Louisiana requires
that memoranda in opposition to a motion be filed eight days prior
to the noticed submission date.
No memoranda in opposition to the
defendants’ motion for summary judgment, noticed for submission on
January 10, 2018, has been submitted.
Accordingly, because the motion is unopposed, and further, it
appearing to the Court that the motion has merit, 1 IT IS ORDERED:
Eduardo Sanchez-Munoz sued Motiva Enterprises LLC and Shell Oil
Company in state court, seeking to recover for personal injuries
he allegedly suffered while working for Brand Energy Solutions,
LLC on August 11, 2016. On that day, Sanchez-Munoz was working as
a contractor building scaffolding at the Motiva/Shell Refinery in
Convent, Louisiana, when an explosion and fire occurred. Although
most of the employees on site during the fire sheltered in place,
Sanchez-Munoz alleges he attempted to evacuate by walking through
rising floodwaters and climbing over a locked gate, which
collapsed, causing Sanchez-Munoz to fall and injure his left wrist,
arm, and shoulder. Motiva and Shell removed the lawsuit to this
Court and now, invoking the statutory employer doctrine codified
at La.R.S. 23:1061(A)(1)-(3), seek judgment as a matter of law
that they are immune from tort liability.
that the defendants’ motion for summary judgment is hereby GRANTED
as unopposed. Because Motiva Enterprises LLC and Shell Oil Company
are entitled to judgment as a matter of law based on undisputed
facts of record indicating that they were the plaintiff’s statutory
Under Louisiana law, the existence of a statutory employer
relationship is presumed to exist where this is a written contract
between a principal and contractor.
See La.R.S. 23:1061(A)(3).
Once this presumption arises, the burden of rebuttal shifts to the
worker to show that the work performed “is not an integral part of
or essential to the ability of the principal to generate that
individual principal’s goods, products, or services.” Id. The
defendants submit that the record demonstrates that this
presumption has arisen, and has not been rebutted, such that
principals Motiva/Shell, his statutory employers.
The relevant contract dated December 14, 2015 expressly
designates Shell/Motiva (and their affiliated companies) as the
statutory employer of Brand Energy’s employees, which shifts the
burden to Sanchez-Munoz to rebut the presumption by showing that
the work performed by Sanchez-Munoz (Brand) was not an integral
part of, or essential to, the ability of Motiva or Shell to
generate its goods, products, and services. Because Sanchez-Munoz
submits no evidence on this point whatsoever, he fails to carry
his burden. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23
(1986)(summary judgment is proper if the party opposing the motion
fails to establish an essential element of his case.). Moreover,
not only do the defendants point to evidence in the summary
judgment record indicating that turnaround work like that
performed by Brand pursuant to its contract with Shell/Motiva is
essential to the ability of Shell to produce its goods, products,
or services, but the defendants submit case literature in support
of its submission that the defendants are statutory employers
immune from tort liability under the circumstances. See, e.g.,
McCLain v. Motiva Enters., L.L.C., No. 09-5806, 2010 WL 3614310
(E.D. La. Sept. 8, 2010)(Engelhardt, C.J.); Joseph v. Shell Chem.
Co., No. 07-5489, 2009 WL 1789422 (E.D. La. June 23, 2009)(Barbier,
employer, and therefore immune from Louisiana tort liability, the
plaintiff’s claims against Motiva and Shell are hereby dismissed.
The plaintiff’s exclusive remedy is pursuant to the workers’
compensation law, La.R.S. 23:1031, et seq.
New Orleans, Louisiana, January __, 2018
MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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