241 F.2d 30 (3rd Cir. 1957), 11993, Curtis v. Cia.

Docket Nº:11993, 12000.
Citation:241 F.2d 30
Party Name:Margaret Jean CURTIS, Administratrix D.B.N. of The Estate of William Thomas, Deceased, Appellant, v. A. GARCIA Y CIA., Ltda. (two cases). Luther MONTGOMERY v. A. GARCIA Y CIA., Ltda. George HUDSON v. A. GARCIA Y CIA., Ltda. Daniel SEAWRIGHT v. A. GARCIA Y CIA., Ltda. Willie WILSON v. A. GARCIA Y CIA., Ltda. Robert BROWN v. A. GARCIA Y CIA., Ltda. A
Case Date:January 21, 1957
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
 
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241 F.2d 30 (3rd Cir. 1957)

Margaret Jean CURTIS, Administratrix D.B.N. of The Estate of William Thomas, Deceased, Appellant,

v.

A. GARCIA Y CIA., Ltda. (two cases).

Luther MONTGOMERY

v.

A. GARCIA Y CIA., Ltda.

George HUDSON

v.

A. GARCIA Y CIA., Ltda.

Daniel SEAWRIGHT

v.

A. GARCIA Y CIA., Ltda.

Willie WILSON

v.

A. GARCIA Y CIA., Ltda.

Robert BROWN

v.

A. GARCIA Y CIA., Ltda.

Anthony TAYLOR

v.

A. GARCIA Y CIA., Ltda.

Nos. 11993, 12000.

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.

January 21, 1957

Argued Dec. 7, 1956.

Rehearing Denied March 7, 1957.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Mark D. Alspach, Philadelphia, Pa., (Joseph J. Murphy, Krusen, Evans & Shaw, Philadelphia, Pa., on the brief), for A. Garcia y Cia., Ltda.

William M. Alper, Philadelphia, Pa., (Abraham E. Freedman, W. R. Lorry, Freedman, Landy & Lorry, Philadelphia, Pa., on the brief), for Curtis and others.

Before BIGGS, Chief Judge, KALODNER, Circuit Judge, and KRAFT, District judge.

KRAFT, District Judge.

The seven civil actions from which the present eight appeals arise were brought by six longshoremen and the administratrix of the estate of a deceased longshoreman. They stem from a maritime accident aboard the S.S. 'Atlantico' on February 14, 1952, in which the six were injured and the seventh killed while the ship's cargo was being discharged at Philadelphia, Pa. The vessel was owned and operated by A. Garcia y Cia., Ltda. (Garcia), the defendant. The longshoremen were employees of Jarka Corporation of Philadelphia (Jarka), a stevedoring company, which Garcia had engaged, as an independent contractor, to unload the cargo. Garcia brought in Jarka as a third-party defendant in each case, but that unresolved litigation is not now before this court.

With the district court's approval, all parties stipulated that the suit of Seawright, one of the longshoremen, would be tried, that the jury's findings in that case would be decisive of the question of liability in all, and that, if Garcia was determined to be liable in Seawright's action, the other suits would be separately tried on the damage issues only. In the Seawright case the jury answered special interrogatories submitted by the trial judge and rendered a general verdict for the plaintiff which was moulded to conform to the answers to the interrogatories. The amount of damages in each of the other cases was thereafter stipulated by the parties and judgments accordingly entered. Garcia's renewed post-trial motions to vacate the judgments, set aside the verdicts and to enter judgments in its favor were denied, except in one particular, by the district court, as were its motions for new trial. Six of these appeals by Garcia 1 present wholly common questions, while its seventh appeal 2 presents not only those questions but others which are akin to those in the single plaintiff's appeal 3 by the administratrix.

Appeals 11, 995 to 12, 000 and, in Part, 11, 994.

Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, as we must after the verdict in Seawright's favor, the facts may be summarized as follows: the S.S. 'Atlantico' had been loaded by Cuban longshoremen at Sagua, Cuba, under the supervision of the ship's officers. The bags of sugar, weighing about 100 pounds each, were stowed on their flat sides, one atop the other, with the long dimension forward and aft. They were piled in thwartship tiers in

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the vessel's lower No. 2 hold, which was approximately 51 feet long and 39 feet wide. Each tier ran completely across the hold and was about 25 to 30 feet high. The method of stowage, if properly employed, was an acceptable method of stowing bagged cargo.

Two methods of discharge of the cargo were available. By one method, which was not used, a space could be created near the center of the hatch by the removal of several levels of bags. From this space longshoremen could work out to the perimeter of the hold and, by such removal, reduce the cargo to the level of the space initially created and then, by repetition of this operation, continue removal to the bottom of the hold. Because of the necessity of dragging the outer portions of the cargo across other of the cargo to the center of the hatch, this method had recognized inherent dangers both of injury to longshoremen and of damage to cargo. The other method, which was used, was to begin the removal of cargo at the middle of the forward half of the hold, instead of at the middle of the entire hold, and to discharge the cargo to the bottom of the forward half before discharge of the after half of the cargo was begun. This method had previously been employed to discharge the same type of cargo from the same hold of this ship on a number of occasions.

When No. 2 hatch was uncovered the longshoremen were ordered by their employer to unload the forward half of the hold first. The longshoremen were unable to note anything defective or significant about the stowage either when they began the discharge or during the unloading prior to the accident. Shortly before 6:00 P.M. nearly all cargo in the forward half of the hold had been discharged. charged. At that time the bags stowed in the after...

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