FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. Richard G. Stearns, U.S. District Judge]
Jonathan E. Gilzean, with whom David F. Anderson and Latti
& Anderson LLP were on brief, for appellant.
J. Muzyka, with whom Kirby L. Aarsheim and Clinton &
Muzyka, P.C. were on brief, for appellee.
Lynch, Lipez, and Barron, Circuit Judges.
case involves rulings of some significance to seamen and
their employers in this circuit, as well as for summary
judgment practice. Jamie Rogers, a seaman, was injured on
October 3, 2013, on the vessel F/V HEDY BRENNA. Admiralty law
entitles seamen who become injured during the course of their
service at sea to recover "maintenance and cure"
payments from their employers. Block Island Fishing, Inc., is
the owner and operator of the fishing vessel. Having made
some maintenance and cure payments to Rogers and believing it
had overpaid, Block Island brought this suit against Rogers
to dispute the duration and amount of maintenance and cure
payments that it owed.
Island then moved for summary judgment on the ground that its
maintenance and cure duties terminated on July 31, 2014. It
supported its motion with record evidence showing that Rogers
had returned to work as a commercial fisherman on another
fishing vessel in July.
district court rejected July 31 as the proper date of
termination. But it went beyond the issue raised by Block
Island's summary judgment motion and found November 18,
2014 as the date on which Block Island's obligations
ended. That was the date on which a doctor, but not
Rogers' primary care physician, found that Rogers no
longer needed follow-up care.
district court also noted that injured seamen are generally
entitled to maintenance and cure payments only in the amount
of their actual living expenses, but it reserved for a jury
to determine the exact sum that Block Island owed Rogers,
along with other issues not resolved at the summary judgment
stage. Relatedly, the district court held on summary judgment
that Block Island had overpaid Rogers by calculating its
maintenance and cure payments using figures that
overestimated Rogers' actual living expenses. It further
ruled that Block Island could offset the sum of overpayment
against any damages award that Rogers might win at trial. We
affirm in part and vacate and remand in part.
the exact date on which Block Island's maintenance and
cure obligations ended, the district court erred by sua
sponte replacing Block Island's proposed date (July 31)
with its own (November 18) without giving Rogers sufficient
notice or opportunity to make his case against the new date.
A summary judgment order is premature where the nonmoving
party lacked "notice and a reasonable time to
respond" to the grounds on which that motion would be
granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(f).
agree with the district court's implicit recognition that
injured seamen like Rogers can generally recover only
reasonable expenses through maintenance and cure payments,
and that it will be the factually exceptional case where the
seaman's actual expenses are not reasonable. Whether this
case presents such exceptional circumstances is an issue for
the jury. Finally, as a matter of first impression, we adopt
the ruling of the Fifth Circuit in Boudreaux v.
Transocean Deepwater, Inc., 721 F.3d 723 (5th Cir.
2013), and hold that Block Island may offset any overpayment
against Rogers' potential damages award, but may not sue
for the sum in an independent action. See id. at
our review of a grant of summary judgment is de novo, we,
like the district court, are obliged to review the record in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, and to draw
all reasonable inferences in the nonmoving party's
favor." LeBlanc v. Great Am. Ins. Co., 6 F.3d
836, 841 (1st Cir. 1993). Although there are numerous dates
at issue, the core of the dispute involves (1) when Block
Island's maintenance and cure obligations terminated, and
(2) the amount, if any, of the maintenance and cure owed.
Block Island takes the position that it overpaid Rogers based
on an inflated rent amount that it believed Rogers to be
paying when, in fact, Rogers had found less expensive
housing. Rogers takes the position that special circumstances
dictate that actual expenses are not the appropriate measure
Rogers' Injury and His Various Residences from 2013
August 2013, Rogers and his family moved into a single-family
home in Bristol, Rhode Island. He paid the first month's
rent of $1, 600, which included utilities, but he cannot
remember paying rent in subsequent months. In September 2013,
Rogers joined the crew of the F/V HEDY BRENNA, a commercial
fishing vessel owned and operated by Block Island. For a
fishing trip in which he participated that month, Rogers was
paid $2, 892 in his catch share for the trip.
October 3, 2013, during another fishing voyage, Rogers fell
off the top bunk while sleeping and injured himself. Three
days later, upon returning from the voyage, Rogers was
diagnosed with a fractured rib and received medical
treatment. In October 2013, Block Island paid Rogers $1,
752.37 in catch share from the October 3 voyage and $475 in
maintenance. On November 1, 2013, Block Island supplemented
that amount with an additional $175 in maintenance and $1,
857.78 in lost wages. The total sum paid from Block Island to
Rogers over this period equaled $4, 260.15.
November 2013, Rogers and his family were evicted from the
Bristol apartment and moved to a less expensive apartment in
Fall River, Massachusetts. He paid $625 in monthly rent,
excluding utilities, for the new Fall River apartment. On
November 4, 2013, Rogers' treating physician, Dr.
Christian Campos, gave him a "fit for duty" slip
and cleared him to return to work as a fisherman
health worsened in December, however, when he was diagnosed
with pneumonia and was hospitalized for three weeks. Rogers
attributes the pneumonia to his rib injury. Block Island
learned about Rogers' condition and hospitalization on
December 19, 2013.
February 20, 2014, Dr. Campos reported that Rogers'
condition was improving and that Rogers could "increase
his level of physical activity as tolerated without
restrictions" while staying on pain medication. On March
17, 2014, Dr. Campos completed another examination and once
again advised Rogers to continue to ...