Coulter v. Ingram Pipeline

511 F.2d 735 (1975)

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Coulter v. Ingram Pipeline

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
511 F.2d 735 (1975)

Facts

James Coulter (plaintiff) worked as a pipelayer on a barge owned by Ingram Pipeline, Inc. (Ingram) (defendant). A 12-ton pipe swung unexpectedly one day while Coulter was working and struck him in the chest. Coulter suffered serious injuries, including several broken ribs, and Ingram began issuing Coulter payments for maintenance and cure. Coulter’s recovery was complicated by his severe obesity, from which he had suffered all of his adult life. Ingram referred Coulter to a physician who prescribed a strict regimen of diet and exercise. The physician believed that the regimen would properly condition Coulter so that he could return to work. Before receiving any status updates as to Coulter’s progress with his conditioning regimen, Ingram terminated his cure payments. Coulter then had to work at his father’s shoe store to make ends meet for his family. Coulter shortly thereafter abandoned his diet and exercise regimen. Coulter sued Ingram for negligence, unseaworthiness, and maintenance and cure. The district court allowed the jury’s awards of damages for negligence and unseaworthiness. However, the district court dismissed Coulter’s maintenance-and-cure claim, finding that his abandonment of the diet and exercise regimen precluded recovery. Coulter appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gewin, J.)

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