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Cedric K. Kahue v. Pacific Environmental Corporation

January 30, 2012

CEDRIC K. KAHUE,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
PACIFIC ENVIRONMENTAL CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION/CLARIFICATION

On November 29, 2011, this Court issued its Order granting in part and denying in part Defendants Pacific Environmental Corporation, M/V PENCO 1, and M/V PENCO 2's (collectively "Defendants" or "PENCO") Motion for Summary Judgment, filed on July 19, 2011 ("Order"). On December 7, 2011, PENCO filed a motion seeking reconsideration of the Order ("Motion"). Plaintiff Cedric Kahue ("Plaintiff" or "Kahue") filed his memorandum in opposition to the Motion on December 27, 2011, and PENCO filed its reply on January 13, 2012. The Court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Local Rule 7.2(d) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Hawai`i ("Local Rules"). After careful consideration of the Motion, supporting and opposing memoranda, and the relevant legal authority, Defendants' Motion is HEREBY DENIED for the reasons set forth below.

BACKGROUND

The parties and the Court are familiar with the factual and procedural background of this case. The Court therefore will only discuss the background that is relevant to the instant motion.

On January 1, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against Defendants, seeking recovery under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 30104, for injuries incurred while employed as a seaman by Defendants. He alleges that, on June 12, 2008, he was injured while preparing for a hazardous waste spill response when a large bale of rags from the second story of a PENCO building fell on his head. As a result, Plaintiff is a partial quadriplegic. [Complaint at ¶¶ 13-14.] Plaintiff alleges claims for: (1) negligence (Count I); (2) unseaworthiness (Count II); and (3) traditional maritime remedies, including maintenance, cure, found, and wages (Count III). [Id. at ¶¶ 17-30.]

Defendants moved for summary judgment on July 19, 2011, seeking judgment in their favor on all of Plaintiff's claims. The Order denied the motion, in part, because of genuine issues of material fact regarding whether Plaintiff was entitled to recover under the Jones Act as a seaman. In so ruling, the Court acknowledged Defendants' argument that:

PENCO argues that a seaman injured on shore is only entitled to pursue seaman's remedies if he was in the service of the vessel at the time of his accident, which precludes Plaintiff from recovering under the Jones Act here. Further, even if Plaintiff could prove seaman status, he was not in the service of any vessel at the time of the accident. It is his service to the vessel, not the mere fact of his employment, which entitles a seaman to Jones Act protection when injured on shore. [Order at 16.]

I. Defendants' Motion

Defendants ask the Court to reconsider its Order and address the their argument that Plaintiff is not entitled to pursue seaman's remedies because he was not in the service of a vessel at the time of his injury. [Mem. in Supp. at 2.]

II. Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition

In his memorandum in opposition, Plaintiff argues that the Court is not obligated to rule on every argument put forth by the parties, and, even if the Court did not explicitly rule on Defendants' argument, denial is implied in the denial of summary judgment. [Mem. in Opp. at 2, 9-10.] Plaintiff also argues that the Motion is frivolous and does not comply with the Local Rules. [Id. at 3-5.]

With respect to the merits of Defendants' underlying argument that Plaintiff was not the in service of a vessel at the time of his injury, he argues that courts reject such a "snapshot" test. Further, even assuming arguendo that Plaintiff was working on a land-based job at the time of his injury, "it is a material issue of fact whether he was still in service of a vessel or group of vessels[.]" [Id. at 11-12.]

III. Defendants' Reply

In their reply, Defendants maintain that, even if Plaintiff was a seaman, "the fact that he was not in the service of a vessel at the time of his injury precludes his recovery." [Reply at 2.] With respect to the merits, Defendants argue that they are not attempting to "rehash old arguments," but that Plaintiff ...


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