Louisiana Record

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Federal court declines seaman's motion to dismiss offshore contractor's request for declaratory judgment

Federal Court

By John Suayan | Feb 27, 2020

A subsea and offshore midstream infrastructure contractor will be permitted to continue with its pursuit of a declaratory judgment against an employee who allegedly failed to returned to work after skipping a medical appointment.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana issued an order denying defendant Eric Jude Wyble’s motion to dismissing Bisso Marine LLC’s action against him on Feb. 13.

Wyble, a seaman, was employed in Bisso’s vessel department. In late 2016, he suffered an injury while in the service of Bisso’s vessel, the AHT William Bisso.

The company subsequently placed Wyble on light duty in New Orleans. He scheduled a doctor’s appointment in June 2017, for which Bisso prepaid $2,000. According to Bisso, Wyble did not go to the appointment and has not returned to work since May 2017.

It then pursued legal action against Wyble for the purpose of the court “declaring that (Wyble) is not entitled to additional maintenance benefits on the ground that he has failed to mitigate his damages by failing to continue his employment with Bisso, within the restrictions imposed by his physicians, at his regular wages and with free lodging.”

Bisso also requested “a judgment declaring that Wyble is not entitled to additional cure benefits on the ground that he has discontinued communications with Bisso, failed to appear for a scheduled and agreed upon medical appointment, and has failed to cooperate with Bisso in connection with his medical treatment and Bisso’s investigation of his medical condition.”

Wyble sought to dismiss the action on the assertion the court “should exercise its discretion to decline to hear it and allow all of his claims against Bisso to proceed in state court.”

The court determined “there are no inequities in allowing this action to proceed because it is limited in scope, and both courts are equally convenient in that they are located only a few blocks apart in the same city.

“Retaining this lawsuit in federal court serves the purposes of judicial economy because the trial is only two months away, whereas Wyble’s suit in CDC has only just begun,” U.S. District Judge Barry Ashe wrote. “Thus, this court will exercise its discretion to entertain this suit.”

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana Case No. 2:18-cv-01083

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana