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Johnson v. PPI Tech. Servs., L.P.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

December 17, 2013, Decided; December 17, 2013, Filed

CIVIL ACTION NO: 11-2773; 12-1534 APPLIES TO ALL CASES SECTION: "J" (3)

Opinion

ORDER

Before the Court are Defendant/Third Party Plaintiff PPI Technology Services, L.P. ("PPI") and Third-Party Defendant The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania ("ISOP")'s Cross Motions for Partial Summary Judgment (Rec. Docs. 284 & 291), the parties' oppositions thereto (Rec. Docs. 294, 295), and the parties' reply memoranda (Rec. Docs. 301 & 303). The parties' motions were set for hearing on December 4, 2013, on the briefs. Having considered the motions and memoranda of counsel, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that PPI's motion should be granted for the reasons set forth more fully below.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

This matter arises from a consolidated maritime personal injury action wherein  [*8] Plaintiffs James Johnson and Robert Croke allege that they received various injuries when gunmen attacked the HIGH ISLAND VII, an oil rig platform off the coast of Nigeria, on which Johnson and Croke were working. Johnson alleges that he was working as an employee of PPI and/or PSL. He alleges that gunmen entered the rig and led him at gunpoint to his room and demanded money. They then led him back to the galley, where the other crewmembers were gathered; but, on the way to the galley, they shot him in the leg.

Croke alleges that he was working on the same rig, but as an employee of PPI only. Croke alleges that he was taken hostage on the rig during which time he was shot in the foot and hit by falling ceiling tiles. The gunmen then removed him from the rig and held him at a camp in Nigeria for ten days where he was tortured and denied treatment for his injuries. Croke alleges that he was eventually rescued from the camp amidst gunfire, bombings, and a helicopter raid. Johnson filed suit on November 8, 2011 and Croke filed suit on June 15, 2012. The matters were consolidated on June 20, 2012. Both actions bring claims under the Jones Act and claims for unseaworthiness under general  [*9] maritime law. Plaintiffs also demand maintenance and cure.

The instant motions, however, arise from PPI's third-party claim against ISOP for denial of coverage in relation to Croke and Johnson's complaints. It is undisputed that ISOP issued a Foreign Commercial Package Policy ("the Policy") to PPI and that the Policy covered a period from April 1, 2010 to April 1, 2011. Therefore, the Policy was in effect when the incident at issue occurred in November 2010. After Johnson and Croke filed the claims described above against PPI, PPI timely notified ISOP of their claims; however, ISOP denied coverage. In ISOP's multiple letters denying coverage, it stated that coverage for Johnson and Croke's claims was excluded under various provisions, including: the Terrorism exclusion, Watercraft exclusion, workers' compensation exclusion, employer's liability exclusion, and crewmember exclusion. (PPI's MSJ, Exhs. D though I, Rec. Doc. 284; ISOP's Ans., Rec. Doc. 216, p. 12). PPI responded to ISOP's denial, but coverage was again denied in February 2013. In that letter, ISOP relied solely on the Terrorism exclusion. (Exh. I)

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2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176748 *; 2013 WL 6665996

JOHNSON VERSUS PPI TECHNOLOGY SERVICES, L.P., et al.

Subsequent History: Motion granted by, in part Johnson v. PPI Tech. Servs., L.P., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 199388 (E.D. La., Jan. 17, 2014)

Prior History: Johnson v. PPI Tech. Servs., L.P., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119496 (E.D. La., Aug. 22, 2013)

CORE TERMS

coverage, segment, Terrorism, gunmen, vessel, rig, intimidating, Watercraft, disrupting