United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael J. McShane United States District Judge.
Judge Thomas M. Coffin filed a Findings and Recommendation
(ECF No. 72) and the matter is now before this court.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), Fed.R.Civ.P. 72.
After having reviewed the legal principles and the
Defendant's Objections (ECF No. 74), I find no error and
conclude it is correct. United States v. Bernhardt,
840 F.2d 1441, 1445 (9th Cir. 1998). Judge Coffin's
Findings and Recommendation (ECF No. 72) is adopted in its
entirety. Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 52) and Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 55) are both DENIED for
the following reasons.
an admiralty and maritime action brought pursuant to the
Jones Act in which plaintiff alleges his back was injured
while working aboard the “FN Newfie Adventure.”
The parties agree that plaintiff sought and received
treatment for a back injury. Defendants deny plaintiff was
injured on the boat and contend that any injury occurred
after his time on the vessel.
29, 2016, the Defendants filed a Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 55). On September 29, 2016, Judge Coffin
heard oral arguments (ECF No. 71), and then issued his
Findings and Recommendation (ECF No. 72) on October 3, 2016,
recommending that Defendants' motion be denied. On
October 19, 2016, Defendants filed their Objections (ECF No.
74). On November 7, 2016, the Plaintiff filed his Response
(ECF No. 75).
judgment shall be granted when the record shows that there is
no genuine dispute as to any material issues of fact and that
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986). The moving party has the initial
burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact
exists. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986); Devereaux v. Abbey, 263 F.3d 1070, 1076 (9th
Cir. 2001) (en banc). The court cannot weigh the evidence or
determine the truth but may only determine whether there is a
genuine issue of fact. Playboy Enters., Inc. v.
Welles, 279 F.3d 796, 800 (9th Cir. 2002). An issue of
fact is genuine "if the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving
party." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248.
properly supported motion for summary judgment is made, the
burden shifts to the opposing party to set forth specific
facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.
Id. at 250. Conclusory allegations, unsupported by
factual material, are insufficient to defeat a motion for
summary judgment. Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040,
1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Instead, the opposing party must, by
affidavit or as otherwise provided by Rule 56, designate
specific facts which show there is a genuine issue for
trial. Devereaux, 263 F.3d at 1076. In assessing
whether a party has met its burden, the court views the
evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
Allen v. City of Los Angeles, 66 F.3d 1052, 1056
(9th Cir. 1995).
Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, they
argue that Plaintiff's punitive damages claim should be
dismissed because, “Plaintiff cannot establish the
requisite willful and wanton disregard of the maintenance and
cure obligation…and there are no grounds upon which to
find that Defendants' denial of such benefits was willful
or wanton and therefore there are no grounds for a punitive
award.” (ECF No. 55 at pp.1-2).
Findings and Recommendation, Judge Coffin recommended that
Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment be
denied, finding that, “Even if there were not manifest
factual disputes present, it would be better to proceed to a
full trial on the claims because in the circumstances of this
case a fuller record will afford a more substantial basis for
decision.” (Citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobbv
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Anderson v.
Hodel, 899 F.2d 766, 770-771 (9th Cir. 1990)). (ECF No.
72). In other words, Judge Coffin found that there remains a
genuine dispute as to material issues of fact surrounding the
plaintiff's injuries and whether or not defendant's
actions were wanton and willful.
owner's mere assertion that an injury or illness did not
occur in the service of the ship is not a conclusive
“reasonable basis” or “colorable legal
defense” that shields them from a punitive damages or
attorneys' fees award. See Vaughan v. Atkinson,
369 U.S. 527 (1962); Deisler v. McCormack
Aggregates, Co., 54 F.3d 1074 (3d Cir. 1995);
Stermer v. Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., 140 So.3d 879
(La. Ct. App. 3d Cir. 2014). Because there exists a question
regarding whether Defendants' justification for denying
Plaintiff's maintenance and cure claim is rooted in
pretext or a good faith belief, the claim for punitive
damages must go to the jury and Defendants' Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment must be denied.
Plaintiff did not file any objections to Judge Coffin's
Findings and Recommendation which recommended denying their
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF No. 52), I reviewed
the legal principles de novo. United States v.
Bernhardt,840 F.2d 1441, 1445 (9th Cir. 1998). See also
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