Dismissal Based on Statutory Employer Immunity Overturned on Appeal

Michael Louque, Sr. was killed when equipment rolled off of a flatbed truck onto him. At the time of the accident, he was working for River Parish Maintenance at Motiva Enterprises, LLC’s manufacturing complex. His family (“Plaintiffs”) subsequently filed a lawsuit seeking wrongful death damages.

Motiva Enterprises, LLC (“Motiva”) filed an exception of no right of action, asserting that it was immune from liability under the workers’ compensation act because Louque was its “statutory employee.” The trial court sustained the exception and dismissed the case against Motiva. Plaintiffs timely appealed this judgment.

Among other arguments raised on appeal, Plaintiffs argued that the trial court erred in granting Motiva’s exception because Motiva failed to prove its status as “statutory employer.” The contract at issue was between Shell Oil Products U.S. and River Parish Maintenance.  The contract contained a Statutory Employer clause providing that Shell and any of its “Subsidiaries or Affiliates” would be considered statutory employers under certain prescribed circumstances. However, the contract did not specify, nor did the record reveal, which companies were subsidiaries or affiliates. The court concluded that Motiva had failed to establish itself as Mr. Louque’s statutory employer and that it was error to sustain Motiva’s exception.

Louque v. Scott Equipment Co., LLC