Vessel Inspection Within Limits of Discovery Order

Plaintiff was allegedly exposed to toxic gas and suffered a resultant injury while working aboard Employer’s vessel.  He filed suit against his employer under the Jones Act and general maritime law for maintenance and cure, unseaworthiness and negligence.

The trial was continued because the parties advised the Court that additional time was needed to conduct discovery.  The Court allowed the parties the opportunity to conduct further limited discovery and depositions.

Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel Vessel Inspection, seeking to have its toxicologist and chemist examine the vessel.  The motion was granted by the magistrate judge, and defendant Employer filed an objection to the Magistrate’s ruling.

Defendant argued that the inspection would constitute improper modification of the Court’s scheduling order and was outside the limited discovery permitted by the Court.  It indicated that Plaintiff failed to explain the importance of the inspection, and also alleged that it would suffer prejudice if Plaintiff’s experts inspected the vessel.

The Court found that the Magistrate’s ruling was neither clearly erroneous nor contrary to the law.  It held that it did not constitute a modification of the scheduling order, and that Defendant agreed to additional discovery and an opportunity to amend expert reports.  Finally, the Court found that Defendant would not suffer prejudice as a result of the Order.  The Court denied Defendant’s Objection to the Magistrate’s Ruling to Compel Vessel Inspection.

White v. Florida Marine Transporters, 2012 WL 1995798 (E.D. La., June 4, 2012).