277 U.S. 151 (1928), 225, Plamals v. S.S. "Pinar Del Rio"

Docket Nº:No. 225
Citation:277 U.S. 151, 48 S.Ct. 457, 72 L.Ed. 827
Party Name:Plamals v. S.S. "Pinar Del Rio"
Case Date:May 14, 1928
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 151

277 U.S. 151 (1928)

48 S.Ct. 457, 72 L.Ed. 827



S.S. "Pinar Del Rio"

No. 225

United States Supreme Court

May 14, 1928

Argued February 27, 1928




1. The cause of action of a seaman under § 33 of the Jones Act for personal injuries suffered on shipboard in the course of his employment, not due to unseaworthiness of the ship, is not a lien upon the ship, and its enforcement in admiralty cannot be by a suit in rem. P. 154.

2. The ordinary maritime privilege or lien, though adhering to the vessel, is a secret one which may operate to the prejudice of general creditors and purchasers without notice, and is therefore stricti juris. It cannot be extended by construction, analogy, or inference. P. 156.

3. Seamen may invoke, at their election, the relief accorded by the old rules against the ship or that provided by the new against the employer, but not both. Id.

16 F.2d 984 affirmed.

Certiorari, 274 U.S. 733, to a decree of the circuit court of appeals which affirmed the dismissal of a libel in rem brought by a seaman for the recovery of damages on account of personal injuries.

Page 153

MCREYNOLDS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Plamals, the petitioner, a subject of Spain, belonged to the crew of the British ship Pinar Del Rio. She was

Page 154

anchored at Philadelphia April 27, 1923. He was being hoisted up to paint the smokestack; a rope broke; he fell to the deck and sustained serious injuries. The accident resulted from the negligence of the mate, who selected a defective rope. An abundant supply of good rope was on board.

Six months after the accident, Plamals began this proceeding in rem against the ship in the District Court, Southern District of New York. The libel alleged that his injuries

were due to the fault or neglect of the said steamship or those in charge of her in that the said rope was old, worn, and not suitable for use, in that libelant was ordered to perform services not within the scope of his duties, and in other respects that libelant will point out on the trial of this action.

There is nothing to show that painting the smokestack was beyond the scope of the duties assumed.

In the district court, the petitioner asserted by his proctor...

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