Plaintiff filed a Jones Act claim against several defendants, including barge drilling contractor, Baywater Drilling, LLC (“Baywater”) and oil services company Frank’s International, LLC (“Frank’s”). The matter was initially set for trial in April 2015, but was continued several times. The final continuance, granted in August 2016, set the trial for October 31, 2016 with an order that “no further discovery shall be conducted and no motions shall be filed without leave of Court.”
On October 2, 2016, Baywater and Frank’s conducted targeted surveillance that revealed Plaintiff working on his truck, using a handheld jack to jack up his truck, and physically lying under his truck. This video was produced to Plaintiff on October 19, 2016, which prompted Plaintiff to file a Motion to Exclude. At no time was the court provided with the surveillance video prior to Plaintiff’s motion. Further, at no time did the defendants move to amend the pretrial order to include the videographer as a witness or the video itself as an exhibit. The court granted Plaintiff’s motion to exclude.
In granting Plaintiff’s motion, the court cited Chaisson v. Zapata Gulf Marine Co., 988 F.2d 513 (5th Cir. 1993), which held that surveillance evidence is considered substantive evidence that is subject to discovery and that failure to timely disclose it can lead to its exclusion. The court held that inclusion of the surveillance footage would be highly prejudicial to Plaintiff constituting the type of surprise that Chaisson was intended to prevent.
Smith v. Baywater Drilling, LLC, et al