262 F.2d 130 (5th Cir. 1959), 17255, The M/V Albacora v. Rawlins

Docket Nº:17255.
Citation:262 F.2d 130
Party Name:THE M/V ALBACORA and Opak Foods, Inc., Appellants, v. Sidney S. RAWLINS, Appellee.
Case Date:January 05, 1959
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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262 F.2d 130 (5th Cir. 1959)

THE M/V ALBACORA and Opak Foods, Inc., Appellants,

v.

Sidney S. RAWLINS, Appellee.

No. 17255.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

January 5, 1959

Woodrow De Castro, Balboa, Canal Zone, De. Castro & Robles, Balboa, Canal Zone, of counsel, for respondents-appellants.

Roy V. Phillipps, P.L.S. Carrington, Balboa, Canal Zone, for appellee.

Before HUTCHESON, Chief Judge, and CAMERON and WISDOM, Circuit Judges.

HUTCHESON, Chief Judge.

This is a suit in admiralty filed on January 7, 1957, in rem and in personam, by Sidney S. Rawlins against the M/V Albacora and Opak Foods, Inc., her owners at the time of the suit, for wages for services allegedly performed as mate on board the said vessel from April 11, 1956, to December 26, 1956, at the allegedly agreed rate of $400 monthly, plus $160 severance pay provided by the law of the flag of the ship, the Republic of Panama, less the sum of $349 received on account, or a total of $3, 210.43. The vessel was attached pursuant to process, and later sold by order of the Court.

Respondents filed their answer on February 7, 1957, containing, besides denials of the material allegations of the libel affirmative defenses, the first of which alleged in substance that libelant's claim had been compromised prior to suit and that the said settlement agreement, attached as Exhibit 'A', 1 had been substituted

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for any claim which libelant may have had prior thereto.

Libelant, on Feb. 21, 1957, filed exceptions to Respondents' answer, and specifically to the Articles constituting Respondents' First Affirmative Defense, on the ground that the said compromise agreement was prohibited by Article 70 of the Constitution of the Republic of Panama, the law of the flag of the vessel, the text of which Article was set forth by libelant as translated from Spanish into English as follows:

'Article 70. All stipulations which imply a waiver, reduction, modification or release of any right granted in favor of the workman are void and, as such, do not bind the contracting parties even though they may be expressed in a labor agreement or in any other agreement. The law shall regulate all matters relating to labor contracts.'

The Court, on April 18, 1957, sustained libelant's exception to Respondents' First Affirmative Defense, while of libelant's exception to other...

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