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Barnes v. Sea Hawaii Rafting, LLC

United States District Court, D. Hawai'i

November 15, 2013

CHAD BARRY BARNES, Plaintiff,
v.
SEA HAWAII RAFTING, LLC, KRIS HENRY, M/V TEHANI, et al., Defendants

Decided: November 13, 2013.

Page 1209

For Chad Barry Barnes, Plaintiff: Jay L Friedheim, LEAD ATTORNEY, Honolulu, HI.

For Sea Hawaii Rafting, LLC, Kris Henry, M/V Tehani, HA-1629-CP, and her engines, equipment, tackle, stores, furnishings, cargo and freight, In Rem, Defendants: Michael J. Nakano, LEAD ATTORNEY, Mark S. Hamilton, Frame & Nakano, Honolulu, HI.

OPINION

Page 1210

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR PAYMENT OF MAINTENANCE AND CURE

Alan C. Kay, Senior United States District Judge.

For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Plaintiff Chad Barry Barnes's Motion for Summary Judgment for Payment of Maintenance and Cure. The Court GRANTS the motion as to Barnes's entitlement to maintenance and cure, DENIES WITHOUT PREJUDICE the motion as to the amount of such payments, and DENIES WITHOUT PREJUDICE the motion as to Defendants' liability for punitive damages and attorney's fees.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On January 1, 2013, Plaintiff Chad Berry Barnes filed a Verified Complaint against Sea Hawaii Rafting, LLC, Kris Henry, and a number of Doe defendants, in personum, and M/V TEHANI, HA-1629 CP, and her engines, equipment, tackle, stores, furnishings, cargo and freight, in rem (together, " Defendants" ). (Doc. No. 1 (" Compl." ).) On August 20, 2013, Barnes filed a Motion for Summary Judgment for Payment of Maintenance and Cure, asking for summary judgment as to Count III of his complaint. (Doc. No. 25 (" Mot." ).) In support of his motion, Barnes filed a concise statement of facts, as well as a number of exhibits. (Doc. Nos. 27, 36.) [1] Defendants filed their memorandum in opposition to the motion, as well as a concise statement of facts and a number of exhibits, on October 22, 2013. (Doc. Nos. 34, 35.) Barnes did not file a reply.

A hearing on the motion was held on November 12, 2013.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND[2]

This matter arises under admiralty law. Barnes alleges that he was employed by Defendant Kris Henry and/or Defendant Sea Hawaii Rafting as a crew member on the vessel M/V TEHANI. (Compl. ¶ ¶ 14-15; Mot. at 2, Exs. A & C.) On July 3, 2012, Barnes was injured when a small explosion occurred under the deck of the boat as Barnes was starting its engine and helping to launch it into the Honokohau Small Boat Harbor in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. (Compl. ¶ ¶ 12-13; Opp'n at 3.) Barnes alleges that he suffered severe physical and emotional injuries as a result

Page 1211

of the accident that require " ongoing medical treatment, loss of time from work, and may have left him permanently disabled." (Compl. ¶ ¶ 16-17.) He has been unable to work since the accident. (Affidavit of Chad Barnes (" Barnes Aff." ) ¶ 26.)

In his complaint, Barnes brings the following claims: (1) negligence under the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 688, against the in personam Defendants (Count I); (2) unseaworthiness as against the M/V TEHANI (Count II); (3) maintenance, cure, and wages under general maritime law (Count III); (4) compensation and recovery for negligence pursuant to the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. § 905, against the in personam and in rem Defendants (Counts IV-VII); (5) individual liability of Defendant Kris Henry and the Doe Defendants for the negligence of Sea Hawaii Rafting, pursuant to a theory of " piercing the veil of limited liability" (Count VII); and (6) intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress as against all Defendants (Count VIII). (Id. ¶ ¶ 23-71.) Barnes seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, and recovery of attorney's fees.

In the instant motion, Barnes asks the Court to grant summary judgment as to Count III, his claim for recovery of maintenance and cure pursuant to general maritime law. Specifically, Barnes asks the Court for an order requiring Defendants to pay him, retrospectively and prospectively, maintenance payments fixed at an amount that meets his reasonable, actual costs of food and lodging, and cure, or the costs of his medical treatment until he reaches Maximum Medical Improvement (" MMI" ). (Mot. at 2.) Barnes also requests that the Court award him attorney's fees and costs involved in bringing the instant motion, as well as punitive damages for Defendants' " willful failure to pay Maintenance and Cure." (Id. at 7-8.)

STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate when a " movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The central issue is " whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986).

The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If that burden has been met, the nonmoving party must then come forward and establish specific material facts in dispute to survive summary judgment. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 588, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). The Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. Id. at 587.

In supporting a factual position, a party must " cit[e] to particular parts of materials in the record . . . or show[] that the materials cited do not establish the absence or presence of a genuine dispute, or that an adverse party cannot produce admissible evidence to support the fact." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1). The nonmoving party " must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita, 475 U.S. at 585. " [T]he requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact . . . . Only disputes over facts that ...


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