Offshore Marine Contractors, et al v. Palm Energy, No. 14-30059 (5th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Appellee Palm Energy Offshore, L.L.C. owned the mineral rights in an area of the Gulf of Mexico called the West Delta 55 block (“WD55”). Palm also served as the court-appointed manager for appellee H.C. Resources, L.L.C. (“HCR”) and its mineral holdings at another Gulf location, the Chandeleur 37 block (“C37”). Acting as HCR’s manager, Palm asked CM to service one of HCR’s wells at C37. CM agreed and chartered a lift boat, the L/B Nicole Eymard from appellee Offshore Marine Contractors, Inc. to perform maintenance work. The ship worked at C37 from July 18 until July 27. On July 27, Palm, now acting on its own behalf, asked CM to send the Nicole Eymard to WD55. CM dispatched the ship to WD55. After completing the job at WD55, the crew of the Nicole Eymard attempted to retract the ship’s legs from the ocean floor. The crew discovered that one of the legs was stuck. The crew worked to free the leg until August 18, when Offshore ordered the crew to sever the leg and return to port ahead of an approaching storm. In port, Offshore completed repairs on the ship on October 10. Offshore then sued CM and Palm for charter fees that accrued from July 15 to August 18, for “downtime charter” from August 19 to October 10, and for the cost of repairs. CM and Palm then filed various counter- and cross-claims against each other and Offshore. CM and Offshore’s claims against each other are governed in part by the terms of an oral charter agreement. CM and Palm’s claims against each other are governed in part by the terms of a Master Service Agreement (“MSA”), and in part by a specific work order. The MSA contained an indemnity agreement (“Indemnity Agreement”). After a bench trial, the district court held that CM owed Offshore for charter fees that accrued from July 15 to July 27 while the Nicole Eymard was at C37, and for charter fees that accrued from July 28 to August 18 while the ship was at WD55. The court held that CM could recover the same fees from Palm. The court held that neither CM nor Palm owed Offshore for downtime charter fees from August 19 to October 10, or for repairs. CM, Offshore, and Palm filed motions to alter or amend the judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 59. The court granted these motions to the extent they sought clarification regarding the court’s order on prejudgment interest. The court determined that the Indemnity Agreement barred CM from seeking repayment for those fees. The court denied the parties’ motions in all other respects. CM appealed from the district court’s judgment and its post-trial order. Finding no reversible error in the district court’s judgment and post-trial order, the Fifth Circuit affirmed.