372 U.S. 697 (1963), 297, Dixilyn Drilling Corp. v. Crescent Towing & Salvage Co.

Docket Nº:No. 297
Citation:372 U.S. 697, 83 S.Ct. 967, 10 L.Ed.2d 78
Party Name:Dixilyn Drilling Corp. v. Crescent Towing & Salvage Co.
Case Date:April 15, 1963
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 697

372 U.S. 697 (1963)

83 S.Ct. 967, 10 L.Ed.2d 78

Dixilyn Drilling Corp.

v.

Crescent Towing & Salvage Co.

No. 297

United States Supreme Court

April 15, 1963

Argued March 21, 1963

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

The holding of Bisso v. Inland Waterways Corp., 349 U.S. 85, and Boston Metals Co. v. The Winding Gulf, 349 U.S. 122, that a towboat owner may not validly contract against liability for its own negligence is reaffirmed. Pp. 697-698.

303 F.2d 237 reversed.

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM.

Respondent Crescent Towing Company contracted with petitioner Dixilyn Drilling Corporation to tow Dixilyn's barge Julie Ann down the Mississippi River. While being towed, the barge collided with a bridge, and the bridge owners filed a libel in the United States District Court claiming damages from the tower and the barge owner. These two jointly paid the claim, but continued to litigate, as between themselves, the question of which was liable. The district judge, after a full trial, found that the collision and the resulting damage were due solely to the negligence of the tower. He also rejected the tower's argument that, regardless of which was negligent, the barge owner should pay the damages, because it had contracted to assume liability for all damages arising out of the towage including "any damage claims urged by third parties." The judge held that the barge owner had not agreed to assume liability for damages caused by the tower's own negligence. On review, the Court of Appeals

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held that it need not decide the "extremely difficult" factual question of who was negligent because, in the court's view, the barge owner had agreed in the towage contract to assume liability for all losses arising out of the towage, including those caused by the tower's negligence. Holding such a contract to be valid, the Court of Appeals reversed the District Court's judgment.

In treating as valid a contract which exempts the tower from liability for its own negligence, the Court of Appeals' holding is squarely in conflict with our holding in Bisso v. Inland Waterways Corp., 349 U.S. 85 (1955), and Boston Metals Co. v. The Winding Gulf, 349 U.S. 122 (1955). The Court of Appeals thought that the present case was distinguishable because the peculiar hazards of towage and other factors brought...

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