United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
ANTHONY R. MISKEL, Plaintiff,
SCF LEWIS & CLARK FLEETING, LLC et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE United States District Judge
Anthony Miskel filed this lawsuit alleging he sustained
injuries after a cable struck him in the face and head
(see Doc. 34). At the time, Plaintiff was employed
by SCF Lewis & Clark Fleeting, LLC (“SCF”) as
a deckhand and was a member of the crew of the M/V Katie
Maurine. Beelman River Terminals, Inc.
(“Beelman”), owned the dock off which the M/V
Katie Maurine was operating at the time Plaintiff was
Count I of the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleged Beelman
was negligent under federal maritime law. In Count II,
Plaintiff stated negligence claims against SCF pursuant to
the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C. § 30104. In Counts III through
V, Plaintiff alleged various claims against SCF and the M/V
Katie Maurine under general federal maritime law. Beelman
filed a cross-claim for contribution against SCF (Doc. 13).
SCF filed a cross-claim against Beelman asserting claims for
indemnity, contribution, and reimbursement for maintenance
and cure expenses SCF incurred during Plaintiff's
treatment (Doc. 36).
February 17, 2016, Plaintiff notified the Court that he had
settled with Beelman and moved for Court approval of the
settlement. Plaintiff also requested that the Court make a
good faith settlement finding pursuant to the Illinois'
Contribution Among Joint Tortfeasors Act, 740 ILCS §
100/2 (Doc. 77). On that same date, Plaintiff filed a motion
to dismiss his claim against Beelman (Count I) and
Beelman's cross-claim against SCF, both with prejudice
April 22, 2016, Magistrate Judge Wilkerson denied
Plaintiff's motion to approve the settlement finding that
there was no legal basis for the issuance of a conditional
ruling approving settlement in this case absent a challenge
to the validity of the settlement. Additionally, Judge
Wilkerson declined to address Plaintiff's request for a
good faith finding, leaving that determination and the
determination as to what law applies to the assessment and
apportionment of damages to the undersigned (Doc. 99). On
April 28, 2016, Beelman was dismissed with prejudice in its
capacity as a defendant, but not in its capacity as a
cross-defendant (Doc. 103).
pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Renewed Motion to
Approve Settlement and to Dismiss Defendant Beelman (Doc.
130). Plaintiff asserts that, pursuant to Rule 16(e) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “the matter of
dismissing Beelman entirely from the case is now ripe for
decision”. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that the
Court should exercise its authority under Rule 16(e) and
dismiss Beelman as a cross-defendant because SCF has no
evidence to support its allegations that Beelman owed or
breached a duty to Plaintiff or SCF.
is correct that under Rule 16(e), a final pretrial order
serves to narrow the scope of trial, prevent surprise and
control “the subsequent course of the action, ”
see Gorby v. Schneider Tank Lines, Inc., 741 F.2d
1015, 1022 (7th Cir. 1984) and that “evidence or
theories not raised in the pretrial order are properly
excluded at trial.” Petit v. City of Chicago,
239 F.Supp.2d 761, 771 (N.D.Ill. 2002). However, SCF's
theory of liability could not come as a surprise to
Plaintiff. It was initially disclosed by SCF's expert
William Beacom almost a year ago and has been raised in
various motions and explored in discovery. As such, Rule
16(e) provides no basis for the dismissal of SCF's
cross-claim against Beelman.
Plaintiff's arguments that SCF has no evidence to support
its cross-claim and that Beelman had no legal duty to provide
safe mooring are dispositive in nature and should have been
raised in a timely motion for summary judgment. As no
dispositive motion raising these issues was filed, these
arguments are waived as untimely.
next argues that state law applies to SCF's cross-claim
and that under the Illinois' Contribution Among Joint
Tortfeasors Act, 740 ILCS § 100/2, the Court should make
a finding that the Beelman settlement was made in good faith.
Such a finding would extinguish SCF's cross-claim against
Beelman and result in its dismissal. SCF counters that the
Court need not, and should not, make a good faith finding as
to the Beelman settlement because maritime law, rather than
Illinois law applies.
Plaintiff alleges he was injured aboard the M/V Katie Maurine
while it was at Beelman's dock to pick up one of two
barges that Beelman personnel had moored to the dock (Doc.
34, ¶ 6). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that as he
tried to turn loose an empty barge, moored immediately below
a loaded barge at the dock, Beelman caused the loaded barge
to move, which in turn caused a cable at the dock to strike
him (Id. at ¶ 7).
28 U.S.C. § 1333(1), district courts have original
jurisdiction over “[a]ny civil case of admiralty or
maritime jurisdiction....” Moreover, the Admiralty
Extension Act, 46 U.S.C. App. § 740, provides that
admiralty jurisdiction “shall extend to and includes
all cases of damage or injury, to person or property, caused
by a vessel on navigable waters, notwithstanding that such
damage or injury be done or consummated on land.”
Further, maritime law was invoked from the outset as to all
of the claims and defenses in this lawsuit. Plaintiff
designated his claims against SCF and Beelman as admiralty
claims within the meaning of Rule 9(h) (see Doc.
34). Additionally, SCF's cross-claims against Beelman for
reimbursement of maintenance and cure expenses, indemnity,
and contribution were also alleged pursuant to Rule 9(h). As
such, the Court finds that federal maritime law applies to
the claims and defenses between the parties.
as here, maritime law applies, state law is preempted if it
defeats existing maritime rights or enlarges existing
maritime liabilities. See Great Lakes Dredge & Dock
Co. v. City of Chicago, No. 92 C 6754, 1996 WL 210081,
at *1 (N.D. Ill. 1996) (citing Kossick v. United Fruit
Co., 365 U.S. 731, 741-42, 81 S.Ct. 886, 6 L.Ed.2d 56
(1961)); see also, Bagrowski v. American Export
Isbrandtsen Lines, Inc., 440 F.2d 502, 506 (7th Cir.
1971) (“federal power is dominant in the maritime field
and states may not deprive a party of a federally created
maritime law, damages are generally allocated among the
parties proportionately to the comparative degree of fault.
McDermott, Inc. v. AmClyde, 511 U.S. 202, 114 S.Ct.
1461, 128 L.Ed.2d 148 (1994); Rufolo v. Midwest Marine
Contractor, Inc., 1995 WL 12227, at *1 (N.D. Ill. 1995)
(applying McDermott following a vacated judgment
from the United State Supreme Court). In McDermott,
the Supreme Court adopted a “proportionate fault”
method, under which a nonsettling defendant is responsible
only for a share of Plaintiff's damages equal to his
proportionate share of fault for the injury. Id.
Conversely, Illinois law has adopted a pro tanto
rule under which the nonsettling defendant receives a dollar
for dollar credit against the judgment for the amount of the
settlement. See 740 ILCS 100(c).
relies on a number of inapposite FELA cases for his
contention that state law applies. However, FELA has no
application with respect to the issues of damages, settlement
or contribution in this case. Thus, Illinois law is preempted