The Rheola

Decision Date12 April 1884
Citation19 F. 926
PartiesTHE RHEOLA. v. THE RHEOLA and another. COUGHLIN
CourtU.S. District Court — Southern District of New York

Beebe Wilcox & Hobbs, for Appellant.

W. W Goodrich, for Defendants.


The libelant has appealed from a decree of the district court for the Southern district of New York dismissing the libel. The suit is in rem, and is brought to recover for personal injuries sustained by the libelant while unloading the Rheola, in July, 1879, when she was discharging cargo along-side a pier in the port of New York. The libelant was one of a number of laborers employed by one Hogan, a master stevedore, to discharge cargo, which consisted of tin in cases and iron ore in bulk. He and others, in all a gang of six men, were in the lower hold of the ship, filling the hoisting tubs with iron. He had hooked one of the tubs to the chain, and was in the act of filling another, when the chain broke while the tub was suspended over the hatchway, and the tub fell upon him. Three tubs were being used, and the work was done rapidly. The chain and hoisting apparatus were furnished by the steamer, under the bargain with the stevedore.

It is not suggested that the suit is not properly brought in rem if the master, while acting within the scope of the authority conferred upon him by the owners, in the management of the vessel, was guilty of negligence towards the libelant. Negligence, when committed upon navigable waters, is a maritime tort which subjects the vessel to liability to an extent coincident with the liability of the owner. Com'rs v. Lucas, 93 U.S. 108. If the relations of the master of the steamer towards the libelant were such as to create a duty not to be negligent, the latter is entitled to recover if there was a breach of that duty. Sherlock v. Alling, 93 U.S. 99.

The learned judge in the court below was of the opinion that, as there was no privity of contract between the libelant and the owners of the steamer, they were not liable unless the thing by which he was injured was imminently dangerous; but he was also of opinion that if the degree of negligence which would make an employer liable to his employee were enough, such negligence was not established by the proofs. As the libelant was not directly employed by the master, and could only look to the master stevedore for his pay, there was no privity of contract between him and the ship-owners. Nor did the relation of master and servant, in its technical sense, exist between the libelant and the ship-owner. But it is conceived that this does not in the least affect the obligation of the master not to be negligent towards the libelant, or the degree of care which it was incumbent upon him to exercise. The libelant was performing a service in which the ship-owners had an interest, and which they contemplated would be performed by the use of appliances which they had agreed to provide. They were under the same obligation to him not to expose him to unnecessary danger, that they were under to the master...

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46 cases
  • Wilson v. Joe Boom Co., Ltd.
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • 30 d6 Julho d6 1921
    ... ... provide reasonable safeguards ... [200 P. 889] ... and protection against injuries, and also to warn them of any ... latent dangers caused by the vessel or those in charge of her ... navigation. ( The Chicago (D. C.), 156 F. 374; ... The Rheola (C. C.), 22 Blatchf. 124, 19 F ... Assignments ... 19, 20 and 21 are based upon the claim that the verdict of $ ... 1,250 in this case is excessive. The evidence relating to the ... extent of the injury is not controverted. [34 Idaho 270] ... Respondent testifies that he was so ... ...
  • Sears, Roebuck and Co. v. American President Lines, Ltd.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of California
    • 8 d4 Julho d4 1971
    ...and draw away from it. See Thomas v. Winchester, 6 N.Y. 397 (1852); Gerrity v. The Bark Kate Cann, 2 F. 241 (EDNY 1880); Coughlin v. The Rheola, 19 F. 926 (SDNY 1884). But it was McPherson v. Buick Motor Co., 217 N.Y. 382, 111 N.E. 1050, which expressed the rationale for the total abolition......
  • Hoof v. Pacific American Fisheries
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • 6 d1 Fevereiro d1 1922
    ... ... 493, Judge Benedict held a vessel liable ... for injury to an assistant United States weigher, whose duty ... it was to keep tally of the vessel's cargo while it was ... discharged, and who was injured by the negligent act of those ... who were discharging the cargo. In The Rheola (C.C.) 19 F ... 926, Judge Wallace held a vessel liable for injuries ... sustained through defective appliances by a stevedore ... employed by another, who had contracted to unload the vessel, ... although there was no privity of contract between the ... shipowners and the libelant ... ...
  • The Max Morris
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • 4 d3 Agosto d3 1886
    ... ... Calista Hawes, 14 F. 493. The members of the profession in ... this circuit have hitherto acquiesced in these decisions, and ... the circuit court, until now, has never been called upon to ... question their correctness by an appeal. In The Rheola, 19 F ... 926, it was also assumed by the circuit judge to be the rule ... that the libelant could not recover for personal injuries if ... his negligence had contributed to produce them. That this has ... been the understanding of the law in other circuits is ... manifest by the opinions of ... ...
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