Jackson v. Lykes Bros Steamship Co, No. 575

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBLACK
Citation87 S.Ct. 1419,1967 A.M.C. 584,18 L.Ed.2d 488,386 U.S. 731
Decision Date08 May 1967
Docket NumberNo. 575
PartiesHelen JACKSON, Petitioner, v. LYKES BROS. STEAMSHIP CO., Inc

386 U.S. 731
87 S.Ct. 1419
18 L.Ed.2d 488
Helen JACKSON, Petitioner,

v.

LYKES BROS. STEAMSHIP CO., Inc.

No. 575.
Argued April 12, 1967.
Decided May 8, 1967.

Charles R. Maloney, New Orleans, La., for petitioner.

Benjamin W. Yancey, New Orleans, La., for respondent.

Mr. Justice BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

Luther Jackson, employed by Lykes Bros. Steamship Company, inhaled noxious gases and died while working as a longshoreman on a Lykes vessel on navigable waters. His widow, Helen Jackson, filed this action against Lykes in the Louisiana state trial court claiming that her husband's death was proximately caused either by Lykes' negligence in operating the ship or by the ship's unseaworthiness. Lykes moved to dismiss on the ground that § 5 of the federal Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act provides that compensation

Page 732

benefits required by that Act to be given by an employer to a longshoreman or his representative for 'injury or death' 'shall be exclusive and in place of all other liability of such employer to the employee.'1 The trial court, sustaining Lykes' motion on the ground assigned in it, dismissed petitioner's suit and th § tate Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit, affirmed. 185 So.2d 342. The Supreme Court of Louisiana finding 'no error of law,' denied a writ of certiorari. 249 La. 460, 187 So.2d 441. We granted certiorari because it appeared that, in deciding as they did, the Louisiana courts had failed to follow our holding in Reed v. The Yaka, 373 U.S. 410, 83 S.Ct. 1349, 10 L.Ed.2d 448.2

Page 733

The crucial facts in Reed v. The Yaka are strikingly similar to those in the present case. Reed, a longshoreman covered by the federal Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, was injured while loading a ship. The ship was owned by the Waterman Steamship Corporation but was being operated by a bareboat charterer as owner pro hac vice which had directly employed Reed to work on the ship as a longshoreman. When Reed filed his suit for damages in rem against the ship, the ship defended on the ground that Reed being a longshoreman could not bring a personal action against the employer-owner pro hac vice because of the Act's exclusive recovery features and consequently he could not sue the ship. We rejected this contention on the express ground that Reed could sue the owner pro hac vice personally despite the Act and despite the fact that the owner pro hac vice was his employer.

We held in Yaka that a longshoreman employed by a shipowner as a longshoreman could sue the owner for the ship's unseaworthiness. In doing so we pointed out that in Seas Shipping Co. v. Sieracki, 328 U.S. 85, 66 S.Ct. 872, 90 L.Ed. 1099,3 and other cases following it, a group of maritime workers, including stevedores, carpenters, and longshoremen, although employed by an independent contractor to work on the ship, were allowed to sue the owner for unsea-

Page 734

worthiness of its ship.4 We also pointed out in Yaka that in Ryan Stevedoring Co. v. Pan-Atlantic Steamship Corp., 350 U.S. 124, 76 S.Ct. 232, 100 L.Ed. 733, this Court had permitted a shipowner, sued by a longshoreman who had been directly hired by an independent stevedore employer under these circumstances, to bring an action over and recover from the independent stevedore employer despite the fact that the liability of the stevedore employer under the Act 'shall be exclusive and in place of all other liability.'

Page 735

Yaka also stressed the fact that the traditional humanitarian remedy for unseaworthiness was not to be destroyed by the kind of employment contract that a shipowner made with the people who worked on the ship.

In this case as in Yaka, the fact that the longshoreman was hired directly by the owner instead of by the independent stevedore company makes no difference as to the liability of the ship or its owner. In the final analysis the contention here against recovery as in Yaka is that the longshoreman who is employed to work on a ship by an independent stevedore company instead of the shipowner can recover for the unseaworthiness of the vessel, but a longshoreman hired by the same shipowner to do exactly the same kind of work on an unseaworthy ship cannot recover. We reject this contention as we did before. 5 We cannot accept such a construction of the Act—an Act designed to provide equal justice to every longshoreman similarly situated. We cannot hold that Congress intended any such incongruous, absurd, and unjust result in passing this Act.

We adhere to Yaka and hold that the Louisiana courts committed error in dismissing petitioner's claim. Louisiana courts have broad jurisdiction of admiralty cases such as this and have frequently exercised it. In this situation it is the duty of the Louisiana courts to adjudicate this case. The judgment is reversed and remanded for trial and further proceedings in the Louisiana courts

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not inconsistent with this opinion. Testa v. Katt, 330 U.S. 386, 67 S.Ct. 810, 91 L.Ed. 967; Mondou v. New York, N.H. & H.R. Co., 223 U.S. 1, 32 S.Ct. 169, 56 L.Ed. 327; Claflin v. Houseman, 93 U.S. 130, 23 L.Ed. 833. See...

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82 practice notes
  • Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule
    • United States
    • Federal Register June 03, 2010
    • June 3, 2010
    ...to include ``radioactive materials,'' does not apply to three specific types of radioactive materials); Jackson v. Lykes Bros. S.S. Co., 386 U.S. 731, 735 (1967) (refusing to distinguish between a longshoreman hired by ``an independent stevedore company'' and one hired by ``the shipowner * ......
  • Burks v. American River Transp. Co., No. 80-3261
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 25, 1982
    ...the Supreme Court, in Reed v. S.S. Yaka, 373 U.S. 410 (83 S.Ct. 1349, 10 L.Ed.2d 448) 8 (1963) and Jackson v. Lykes Bros. Steamship Co., 386 U.S. 731 (87 S.Ct. 1419, 18 L.Ed.2d 488) 9 (1967), held that the unseaworthiness remedy is available to the injured employee. The Committee believes t......
  • Linton v. Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., No. 90-4908
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 22, 1992
    ...this and have frequently exercised it. [I]t is the duty of the Louisiana courts to adjudicate this case." Jackson v. Lykes Bros. S.S. Co., 386 U.S. 731, 735, 87 S.Ct. 1419, 1422, 18 L.Ed.2d 488 (1967). Although the case does not address the jury trial question, it does emphasize the concurr......
  • Barger v. Petroleum Helicopters, Inc., Civ. A. No. B-77-180-CA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • May 21, 1981
    ...the Supreme Court, in Reed v. S. S. Yaka, 373 U.S. 410, 83 S.Ct. 1349, 10 L.Ed.2d 448 (1963) and Jackson v. Lykes Bros. Steamship Co., 386 U.S. 731, 87 S.Ct. 1419, 18 L.Ed.2d 488 (1967), held that the unseaworthiness remedy is available to the injured employee. The Committee believes that t......
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81 cases
  • Burks v. American River Transp. Co., No. 80-3261
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 25, 1982
    ...the Supreme Court, in Reed v. S.S. Yaka, 373 U.S. 410 (83 S.Ct. 1349, 10 L.Ed.2d 448) 8 (1963) and Jackson v. Lykes Bros. Steamship Co., 386 U.S. 731 (87 S.Ct. 1419, 18 L.Ed.2d 488) 9 (1967), held that the unseaworthiness remedy is available to the injured employee. The Committee believes t......
  • Linton v. Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., No. 90-4908
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 22, 1992
    ...and have frequently exercised it. [I]t is the duty of the Louisiana courts to adjudicate this case." Jackson v. Lykes Bros. S.S. Co., 386 U.S. 731, 735, 87 S.Ct. 1419, 1422, 18 L.Ed.2d 488 (1967). Although the case does not address the jury trial question, it does emphasize the concurr......
  • Barger v. Petroleum Helicopters, Inc., Civ. A. No. B-77-180-CA.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • May 21, 1981
    ...the Supreme Court, in Reed v. S. S. Yaka, 373 U.S. 410, 83 S.Ct. 1349, 10 L.Ed.2d 448 (1963) and Jackson v. Lykes Bros. Steamship Co., 386 U.S. 731, 87 S.Ct. 1419, 18 L.Ed.2d 488 (1967), held that the unseaworthiness remedy is available to the injured employee. The Committee believes that t......
  • Longmire v. Sea Drilling Corp., No. 77-2561
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • February 6, 1980
    ...374 F.2d 946 (5th Cir.), Cert. denied, 389 U.S. 927, 88 S.Ct. 286, 19 L.Ed.2d 277 (1967)). Applying Reed v. The Yaka and Jackson v. Lykes, 386 U.S. 731, 87 S.Ct. 1419, 18 L.Ed.2d 488 (1967), such an employee would presumably also be free to bring that action against an employing shipowner. ......
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