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Cortes v. Baltimore Insular Line, Inc., 287 U.S. 367 (1932)

Cortes v. Baltimore Insular Line, Inc.

No. 12

Argued November 16, 1932

Decided December 5, 1932

287 U.S. 367


1. Injury suffered by a seaman in the course of his employment, as the result of failure of the master of the ship to furnish him care or cure when stricken by pneumonia, is a "personal injury" from

Page 287 U. S. 368

"negligence," within the purview of § 33 of the Merchant Marine Act, supplemented by the Federal Employers' Liability Act, for which that section gives a right of action by the seaman, if living, or by his personal representative if the injury result in death. Pp. 287 U. S. 371-373.

2. The fact that the duty of master and of shipowner to furnish care and cure to a seaman in case of illness is a duty arising from and attached to the contractual relation of employment, for the breach of which the seaman has, under the general maritime law, a cause of action ex contractu, is not inconsistent with allowing him also, at his election, a statutory action ex delicto when neglect of the duty results in impairment of body or mind; still less inconsistent with allowing such an action to his personal representative (who could not otherwise sue) if the injury causes death. P. 287 U. S. 372.

3 After the voyage has begun, with care and cure cut off from an ill seaman unless furnished by officers and crew, withdrawal from the relation from which springs the duty is impossible, and abandonment is a tort. Pp. 287 U. S. 374.

4. Section 33 of the Merchant Marine Act should be liberally construed in aid of its purpose to protect seamen and those dependent on their earnings. P. 287 U. S. 375.

5. When a duty imposed by law for the benefit of the seaman and for the promotion of his health or safety has been neglected, to the damage of his person, his remedy under § 33 of the Merchant Marine Act is the same as though a like duty had been imposed by law upon carriers by rail. Pp. 287 U. S. 376-378.

52 F.2d 22 reversed.

Certiorari, 285 U.S. 535, to review the reversal of a judgment for damages, recovered against the steamship company by the petitioner, as administrator of the estate of a deceased seaman.

Page 287 U. S. 370

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