Smith Son v. Taylor

Citation276 U.S. 179,1928 A.M.C. 447,48 S.Ct. 228,72 L.Ed. 520
Decision Date20 February 1928
Docket NumberNo. 186,186
PartiesT. SMITH & SON, Inc., v. TAYLOR
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Jones, of Washington, D. C., for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Eugie V. Parham, of New Orleans, La., for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice BUTLER delivered the opinion of the Court.

March 12, 1925, plaintiff in error, a stevedoring corporation, was unloading a vessel lying in the Mississippi at a dock in New Orleans. George Taylor was in its employ as a longshoreman and came to his death while engaged in that work. Defendant in error is his widow and brought this suit in the civil district court of Orleans Parish under the Louisiana Workmen's Compensation Law1 to recover compensation for herself and children. The district court gave judgment for them; the Court of Appeal affirmed; and its presiding judge, after the state Supreme Court had denied a writ of certiorari, allowed the writ of error that brings the case here.

Plaintiff in error maintained below and here insists that this is a case exclusively within the admiralty and mari- time jurisdiction, and that, while the state Compensation Law is broad enough to apply to longshoremen unloading vessels, its application in this case violates section 2 of article 3 of the Constitution, which extends the judicial power of the United States 'to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction,' and also that clause of section 8 of article 1, which authorizes Congress to make laws for carrying into effect the powers granted by the Constitution.

At the time of the accident, cargo was being hoisted out of the hold to deck skids and thence swung to trucks operated upon a stage that rested solely upon the wharf and projected a few feet over the water to or near the side of the vessel. The petition of defendant in error alleged, and she introduced evidence to show, that deceased was standing on the stage when a sling, loaded with five sacks of soda, weighing 200 pounds each, was being lowered over the side by means of a winch on the vessel; that the sling was swinging back and forth, and, while deceased was trying to catch and steady it, the sling struck him and knocked him off the stage into the water, where some time later he was found dead. At the trial plaintiff in error maintained that deceased was not struck, but accidentally fell into the river. The issues were decided in favor of defendant in error, and the evidence is amply sufficient to sustain the finding.

Deceased was engaged in maritime work under a maritime contract. If the cause of action arose upon the river, the rights of the parties are controlled by maritime law, the case is within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, and the application of the Louisiana Compensation Law violated section 2 of article 3. But, if the cause of action arose upon the land, the state law is applicable. The Plymouth, 3 Wall. 20, 33, 18 L. Ed. 125; Atlantic Transport Co. v. Imbrovek, 234 U. S. 52, 59, 34 S. Ct. 733, 58 L. Ed. 1208, 51 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1157; Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen, 244 U. S. 205, 37 S. Ct. 524, 61 L. Ed. 1086, L. R. A. 1918C, 451, Ann. Cas. 1917E, 900; ...

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  • Lowe v. Ingalls Shipbuilding, a Div. of Litton Systems, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • 30 Enero 1984
    ...Jet Aviation v. Cleveland, 409 U.S. 249, 266, 267, 93 S.Ct. 493, 503, 504, 34 L.Ed.2d 454 (1972). In Smith & Son v. Taylor, 276 U.S. 179, 48 S.Ct. 228, 72 L.Ed. 520 (1928) where the longshoreman was hit on the dock and fell into navigable waters and drowned, the "situs" test was not satisfi......
  • Seas Shipping Co v. Sieracki
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 22 Abril 1946
    ...Commission of State of New York v. Nordenholt Corp., 259 U.S. 263, 42 S.Ct. 473, 66 L.Ed. 933, 25 A.L.R. 1013; Smith & Son v. Taylor, 276 U.S. 179, 48 S.Ct. 228, 72 L.Ed. 520; Swanson v. Marra Brothers, Inc., No. 405, 328 U.S. 1, 66 S.Ct. 869. There would seem to be no occasion for us to be......
  • In re Dearborn Marine Service, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • 22 Agosto 1974
    ...maritime jurisdiction depend on the direction from which plaintiff fell, landward or seaward. Compare T. Smith & Son, Inc. v. Taylor, 276 U.S. 179, 48 S.Ct. 228, 72 L.Ed. 520 (1928) longshoreman knocked from wharf staging into water by sling being lowered from vessel; state law applicable, ......
  • Executive Jet Aviation, Inc v. City of Cleveland, Ohio
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 18 Diciembre 1972
    ...that have demonstrated some of the problems with the locality test of maritime tort jurisdiction. In Smith & Son v. Taylor, 276 U.S. 179, 48 S.Ct. 228, 72 L.Ed. 520 (1928), for instance, a longshoreman unloading a vessel was standing on the pier when he was struck by a cargoladen sling from......
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