521 F.2d 229 (5th Cir. 1975), 74-4181, Trade Banner Line, Inc. v. Caribbean S. S. Co., S. A.

Docket Nº:74-4181
Citation:521 F.2d 229
Party Name:TRADE BANNER LINE, INC., Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CARIBBEAN STEAMSHIP CO., S. A., Defendant, Reynolds Metals Co., Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:September 24, 1975
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 229

521 F.2d 229 (5th Cir. 1975)

TRADE BANNER LINE, INC., Plaintiff-Appellee,



Reynolds Metals Co., Defendant-Appellant.

No. 74-4181


United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

September 24, 1975

Page 230

Robert M. Contois, Jr., New Orleans, La., William H. Keys, Corpus Christi, Tex., for Reynolds Metals Co.

J. Michael Mahaffey, Corpus Christi, Tex., for plaintiff-appellee.

Joseph Newton, Houston, Tex., for Caribbean S. S. Co.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Before BROWN, Chief Judge, and GODBOLD and GEE, Circuit Judges.


The facts of this case are set forth in detail in the opinion of the district court, Trade & Transport, Inc. v. Caribbean Steamship Co., 384 F.Supp. 782 (S.D.Tex.1974) and will not be retold here.

As we understand the ruling of the district court, Reynolds Metals Company's liability as wharfinger is grounded on one or more of three possible bases. The first is that Reynolds breached its duty to supply the M/V TRADE CARRIER with a safe berth by failing to warn her captain of the shallow water which lay to the west of the bauxite dock where she was moored. The second is that the same duty was breached when Reynolds recommended to the captain that TRADE CARRIER be moved from the Alumina dock to the bauxite pier because ". . . the fittings on the bauxite pier were not entirely adequate to hold the vessel in the storm." 384 F.Supp. at 787. The third is that Reynolds ". . . had some fault with regard to the securing of the vessel to the bauxite pier." 384 F.Supp. at 787. Since we find liability grounded on any of these bases unfounded, we reverse and render judgment in favor of Reynolds.

It is well settled that a wharfinger is not the guarantor of the safety of a ship coming to his wharf. He is, however, under a duty to exercise reasonable diligence to furnish a safe berth and to avoid damage to the vessel. This includes the duty to ascertain the condition of the berth, to make it safe or warn the ship of any hidden hazard or deficiency known to the wharfinger or which, in the exercise of reasonable care and inspection, should be known to him and not reasonably known to the shipowner. Smith v. Burnett,173 U.S. 430, 19 S.Ct. 442, 43 L.Ed.2d 756 (1899); Grace Line, Inc. v. Todd Shipyards Corp., 500...

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