Amending a Judgment Requires More Substance, Not New Arguments

Author: Patrick J. Babin


Plaintiff was injured while working as an oil cleanup worker on a beach in the aftermath of the BP oil spill.  Plaintiff filed a Louisiana workers’ compensation claim, as well as a general maritime law claim in federal court against defendants.  Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing that they were the statutory employers of the plaintiff and she could only have a workers’ compensation claim. The court previously held defendants did not show that the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act protected them from plaintiff filing a lawsuit under general maritime law.  Defendants thereafter filed a motion to amend or alter the judgment denying their Motion for Summary Judgment.

The defendants argued three points in a motion to amend. First, the court incorrectly relied on the U.S. Fifth Circuit’s opinion in Green v. Vermillion Corp., because Green only applied to employees engaged in maritime employment who were injured in navigable waters performing traditional maritime work. The court noted that defendants did not raise this argument in their previous Motion for Summary Judgment. Here, defendants argued for the first time that beach cleaning was not traditional maritime activity. The court ruled that without a showing from the defendants that the court erred legally or factually, the court did not have to resolve this new argument on the merits.

Second, defendants argued that the “maritime but local” doctrine applied and thus the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act exception applied. Again, defendants failed to raise this argument in their original Motion for Summary Judgment. Interestingly, the court noted, defendants did not argue that the court erred in not applying the “maritime but local” doctrine, which is the appropriate standard for a motion to amend. 

Finally, defendants submitted that they were the Plaintiff’s statutory employers and had protection under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act. This was the same argument that defendants submitted in the original Motion for Summary Judgment. In denying the original Motion for Summary Judgment, the court reasoned that defendants failed to show how they were protected from maritime claims as a matter of law in federal court. In rehashing this earlier argument, defendants presented no new evidence or legal authority that would suggest that the court erred.

Because the defendants failed to establish a mistake of law or fact, defendants’ motion to amend was denied.


Givens v. ES & H, Inc., CIV.A. 12-690, 2012 WL 4884920 (E.D. La. Oct. 15, 2012).