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Davis & Sons, Inc. v. Gulf Oil Corporation

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
919 F.2d 313 (5th Cir. 1990)


Gulf Oil Corporation (Gulf) (defendant) leased a field in which Gulf operated 150 mineral wells. The field and Gulf’s wells therein were primarily underwater. Gulf signed a master services agreement with Davis & Sons, Inc. (Davis) (plaintiff), under which Davis would provide general contracting services for Gulf’s facilities in the field. The agreement required Davis to indemnify Gulf for claims arising from the agreement. Gulf issued Davis weekly work orders with specific assignments. Pursuant to one such work order, Davis employees staffed and used a barge in the field to perform work on Gulf’s wells. The employees used the barge as transportation, and also performed work on the wells from the barge. The employees were responsible for maintaining the barge itself. A Davis supervisor on the barge, Mark Brenaman, drowned while working on the barge. After Brenaman’s estate settled with Davis and Gulf, Davis brought suit, seeking a declaratory judgment that Louisiana law applied to the indemnity clause. Gulf counterclaimed that maritime law applied to the clause. The district court granted Davis summary judgment. Gulf appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Rubin, J.)

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