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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Judge rules in favor of Chevron Oronite in indemnity lawsuit


By William Sassani | Feb 8, 2019

Asbestos 08

New Orleans -- Judge Barry W. Ashe has released a finding of fact and conclusions of law regarding a civil action between Chevron Oronite Company, LLC and Jacobs Field Services North America, Inc. 

In the 19-page document, Judge Ashe ordered that Jacobs Field Services pay Chevron Oronite $550,000 related to another lawsuit. Jacobs Field Services must also pay for interest as well as $255,869.34 in combined costs and attorney’s fees stemming from the previous lawsuit, as well as costs associated with pursuing the $550,000 from Jacobs Field Services. 

The findings are related to a civil lawsuit filed by Wayne Bourgeois in 2017 against J.E. Merit, which Jacobs Field Services succeeds in interest as well as Chevron Chemical, which Chevron Oronite Company succeeds in interest. Bourgeois sued because he alleged he had been exposed to asbestos while working for J.E. Merit as a welder from 1989-1994 at a facility owned by Chevron Chemical. Bourgeois was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2016 and died on July 25, 2017. 

Seal of the Eastern District of Louisiana | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

J.E. Merit, in its business arrangements with Chevron Oronite, had agreed to an indemnification clause in all its contracts with Chevron. This included indemnification “against loss, damage, injury, liability, or death caused by J.E. Merit or connected with the contract or J.E. Merit’s performance under the contract.” 

Chevron tendered the lawsuit by Bourgeois to Jacobs Field Services twice and also informed them about settlement negotiations. Jacobs refused to accept the lawsuit or participate in the negotiation process for settlement. The final settlement in the case was $550,000, which was agreed to on January 24, 2018. Jacobs refused to pay the amount and Chevron filed a complaint for breach of contract on March 2, 2018. 

In his decision, Judge Ashe noted that Chevron only had to prove that it had potential liability in the Bourgeois lawsuit. This was enough “so as to trigger Jacobs’ indemnity obligation under the contracts at issue.” 

Judge Ashe submitted his findings on January 23rd, 2019.

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