Margo Kronberg, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Joseph Kronberg, and Margo Kronberg on Behalf of all the Heirs of Joseph Kronberg, Plaintiff- Appellant,
Oasis Petroleum North America LLC; RPM Consulting, Inc.; American Portable Mini Storage, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.
Submitted: February 11, 2016
from United States District Court for the District of North
Dakota - Bismarck
SMITH and COLLOTON, Circuit Judges, and GRITZNER,  District
COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.
Kronberg was electrocuted and died while working at an oil
well as an employee of Nabors Drilling USA, LP. Mr.
Kronberg's widow, Margo Kronberg, filed wrongful death
and survival actions against Oasis Petroleum North America
LLC, RPM Consulting, Inc., and others involved with the well,
alleging that their negligence caused her husband's
death. The district court granted summary judgment for Oasis and
RPM Consulting. Mrs. Kronberg appeals, and we affirm.
engages in oil and gas exploration activities and acquires
property rights to drill for the fuels. The company does not
conduct drilling operations at its well sites. Rather, Oasis
contracts with other entities that manage the day-to-day
operations at its wells.
2007, Oasis entered into a Master Service Contract with RPM
Consulting. RPM Consulting agreed to provide Oasis with
engineering support and subcontractors to oversee the
drilling process and coordinate services needed to keep those
sites operating efficiently.
the Master Service Contract, RPM Consulting assigned
"company hands" to oil rigs operating at Oasis
wells. A company hand is tasked with ensuring that the
drilling process is progressing safely, efficiently, and
according to the well plan. Company hands do not operate
equipment or complete hands-on work. On behalf of Oasis, they
supervise drilling and contract with third-party vendors for
services needed at wells. RPM Consulting typically appoints
two company hands to serve at each site, and one company hand
is on duty at all times. While on duty, the company hand
lives at the site, serving as the Oasis representative at the
well. Each morning, the company hand on duty e-mails a
progress report to several Oasis and RPM Consulting
early 2011, Oasis obtained the rights to drill for oil at the
Ross 5603 well in Williams County, North Dakota. Oasis
engaged Nabors Drilling to serve as the drilling contractor
at the well. Oasis agreed to supply Nabors Drilling with a
suitable location to drill the well. Nabors Drilling agreed
to drill the well and to provide the rig and labor necessary
to accomplish the task.
Drilling dispatched Nabors Rig 177 to the well. RPM
Consulting assigned three subcontractors, including company
hand Michael Bader, to the rig. Bader, through the separate
entity of Mike Bader Consulting, LLC, had entered into a
Subcontractor Agreement with RPM Consulting in February 2010.
Kronberg worked for Nabors Drilling on Nabors Rig 177. On the
evening of May 9, 2011, Mr. Kronberg entered the Ross
well's "change shack, " a structure where
Nabors Drilling employees changed into and out of their work
clothes. An electrical cord running from a generator to the
well site's transformer ran in front of the change shack.
Someone had positioned a metal grate in front of the
shack's entrance. Foot traffic near the shack had caused
the electrical cord and metal grate to converge in a puddle
of water, and the grate had punctured the cord. As Mr.
Kronberg exited the shack, he stepped onto the grate and was
it is not clear who placed the grate in front of the shack,
the grate previously had been located in another structure
used by Nabors Drilling employees. It had been raining at the
well for several days before the accident, and workers at the
well suggested that the grate was set in front of the shack a
few days earlier so that Nabors Drilling employees could
remove mud from their boots. Bader, who was on duty as
company hand, filed an accident report with Oasis concerning
the Kronberg incident.
Kronberg's widow brought wrongful death and survival
actions against Oasis Petroleum and RPM Consulting, among
others. Mrs. Kronberg alleged that the defendants'
negligence caused her husband's death. The district court
granted summary judgment for Oasis and RPM Consulting, ruling
that neither company owed Mr. Kronberg a duty of care under
North Dakota law. Mrs. Kronberg dismissed her claims against
the remaining defendants and now appeals the grant of summary
judgment in favor of Oasis and RPM Consulting.
review the district court's grant of summary judgment
de novo, viewing the record in the light most
favorable to Mrs. Kronberg and drawing all reasonable
inferences in her favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986). Summary judgment is
appropriate when "the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and . . . is entitled
to judgment as a matter of law" based on ...