Morrison v. Commercial Towboat Co.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtDE COURCY
Citation227 Mass. 237,116 N.E. 499
PartiesMORRISON v. COMMERCIAL TOWBOAT CO.
Decision Date26 May 1917

227 Mass. 237
116 N.E. 499

MORRISON
v.
COMMERCIAL TOWBOAT CO.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk.

May 26, 1917.


Report from Superior Court, Suffolk County; Franklin G. Fessenden, Judge.

Action by Francis B. Morrison against the Commercial Towboat Company. Case reported. Judgment for defendant.


Bion [227 Mass. 238]B. Libby, Louis E. Flye, and Geo.
E. Richardson, all of Boston, for plaintiff.

Sawyer, Hardy, Stone & Morrison, of Boston, for defendant.


DE COURCY, J.

This action of tort for personal injuries was brought under the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act, St. 1911, c. 751. The plaintiff contends that as the defendant was not a subscriber under the terms of the act the defences of contributory negligence, assumption of risk and negligence of a fellow servant are not open to it by virtue of part 1, § 1. The main contention of the defendant is that the plaintiff was not one of those employees for whose benefit the statute was enacted, and that consequently he cannot recover in this action.

Part 5, § 2, of the statute, as amended by St. 1914, c. 708, § 13, provides:

“Employee' shall include every person in the service of another under any contract of hire, express or implied, oral or written, except masters of and seamen on vessels engaged in interstate or foreign commerce, and except one whose employment is not in the usual course of the trade, business, profession or occupation of his employer.'

The plaintiff was mate of the ‘Francis C. Hersey,’ a harbor-towboat owned and operated by the defendant: and hence was within the classification of ‘masters of and seamen on vessels.’ The controlling question is, was the towboat Francis C. Hersey ‘engaged in interstate or foreign commerce’ at the time of the accident?

The following material facts are taken from the report of the trial judge: The plaintiff was mate of the ‘Francis C. Hersey,’ a harbor-towboat owned and operated by the defendant. This towboat was engaged entirely within the limits of Boston Harbor. The defendant also owned and operated a barge called the Helen, which admittedly was employed in interstate commerce between Virginia and Massachusetts in the coal trade. When loaded with coal it was drawn by an ocean-going tug from Hampton Roads to Boston, was anchored ‘down on the flats in the harbor,’ and from there towed by a towboat like the Francis C. Hersey to the Lewis Coal Wharf in Chelsea. On the morning of the accident the Helen was lying at Lewis Wharf, having completely unloaded [227 Mass. 239]a cargo of coal, and was awaiting the arrival of the tug to start it on its journey south. The tug Hersey came from the defendant's wharf at Boston, and ran under the bow of the barge for the purpose of delivering a bundle of fish, which was to be eaten by the crew of the barge on its trip to Virginia, and for the further purpose to towing the barge down to the flats on its journey for more coal. The plaintiff and a deckhand then tied the bundle of fish to a heaving line which was thrown down to the towboat from the deck of the barge. The plaintiff testified that almost immediately after the fish had been hauled aboard the barge, the donkey-engine on the barge was started, without any warning to the plaintiff, and he was injured by the steam and boiling water.

At the time the accident happened, the

[116 N.E. 500]

captain of the Helen was on the wharf for the purpose, preparatory to towing the barge, of casting off a hawser which made the bow of the barge fast to the wharf. The donkey-engine, from which the steam or boiling water came, was used for heaving in hawsers and the anchor-chain, and was started upon the order of the captain given from the dock.

After the accident the towboat Hersey took the hawser from the barge Helen and towed the barge down to Castle Island in Boston Harbor where it would lie awaiting an ocean-going tug to tow it to Virginia.

By St. 1913, c. 568, the Legislature expressly excluded from the operation of the Massachusetts workmen's compensation statute ‘masters of and seamen on vessels engaged in interstate or foreign commerce.’ See The Hamilton, 207 U. S. 398, 28 Sup. Ct. 133, ...

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6 practice notes
  • Mississippi Cent R. Co. v. Knight, 24615
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • March 30, 1925
    ...v. Sheldon, 176 Iowa 618, 154 N.W. 499; Louisiana Ry. & Nav. Co. v. Holly, 127 La. 615, 53 So. 882; Morrison v. Commercial Towboat Co., 116 N.E. 499; Gaines v. Detroit, G. H. & M. R. Co., 181 Mich. 376, 148 N.W. 397; Trowbridge v. Kansas City & W. B. Ry., 192 Mo.App. 52, 179 S.W. 777; Gulf,......
  • Am. Fid. & Cas. Co Inc v. Thompson, No. 31290.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • September 5, 1946
    ...but every link in that transportation, whether or not some of the links are entirely within one state. Morrison v. Commercial Towboat Co, 227 Mass. 237, 116 N.E. 499. The rule that the ultimate destination of the goods shipped, or the destination intended by the passenger when he begins his......
  • American Fidelity & Cas. Co. v. Thompson, 31290.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • September 5, 1946
    ...that transportation, whether or not some of the links are [74 Ga.App. 193] entirely within one state. Morrison v. Commercial Towboat Co., 227 Mass. 237, 116 N.E. 499. The rule that the ultimate destination of the goods shipped, or the destination intended by the passenger when he begins his......
  • Westman's Case
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1919
    ...Behrens, 233 U. S. 473, 34 Sup. Ct. 646, 58 L. Ed. 1051, and cases cited in Ann. Cas. 1914C, 163. In Morrison v. Commercial Towboat Co., 227 Mass. 237, 116 N. E. 499, a case arising under the Massachusetts Workmen's Compensation Act, the court was considering the claim of a master of a towb......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Mississippi Cent R. Co. v. Knight, 24615
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • March 30, 1925
    ...v. Sheldon, 176 Iowa 618, 154 N.W. 499; Louisiana Ry. & Nav. Co. v. Holly, 127 La. 615, 53 So. 882; Morrison v. Commercial Towboat Co., 116 N.E. 499; Gaines v. Detroit, G. H. & M. R. Co., 181 Mich. 376, 148 N.W. 397; Trowbridge v. Kansas City & W. B. Ry., 192 Mo.App. 52, 179 S.W. 777; Gulf,......
  • Am. Fid. & Cas. Co Inc v. Thompson, No. 31290.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • September 5, 1946
    ...but every link in that transportation, whether or not some of the links are entirely within one state. Morrison v. Commercial Towboat Co, 227 Mass. 237, 116 N.E. 499. The rule that the ultimate destination of the goods shipped, or the destination intended by the passenger when he begins his......
  • American Fidelity & Cas. Co. v. Thompson, 31290.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • September 5, 1946
    ...that transportation, whether or not some of the links are [74 Ga.App. 193] entirely within one state. Morrison v. Commercial Towboat Co., 227 Mass. 237, 116 N.E. 499. The rule that the ultimate destination of the goods shipped, or the destination intended by the passenger when he begins his......
  • Westman's Case
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1919
    ...Behrens, 233 U. S. 473, 34 Sup. Ct. 646, 58 L. Ed. 1051, and cases cited in Ann. Cas. 1914C, 163. In Morrison v. Commercial Towboat Co., 227 Mass. 237, 116 N. E. 499, a case arising under the Massachusetts Workmen's Compensation Act, the court was considering the claim of a master of a towb......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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