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Ryan Stevedoring Co., Inc. v. Pan-Atlantic Corp., 350 U.S. 124 (1955)

Ryan Stevedoring Co., Inc. v. Pan-Atlantic Steamship Corp.

No. 4

Argued March 3-4, 1955

Affirmed by an equally divided Court, April 11,1955

Rehearing granted, May 16,1955

Reargued October 11-12, 1955

Decided January 9, 1956

350 U.S. 124


Without signing a formal stevedoring contract or an express indemnity agreement, a stevedoring contractor agreed to perform all stevedoring operations required by a shipowner in the latter's coastwise service. Under this agreement, the contractor loaded a ship at Georgetown, S.C., with a mixed cargo, including rolls of pulpboard, and unloaded it in navigable water at a pier in Brooklyn, N.Y. During the unloading, a longshoreman employed by the contractor was injured by a roll of pulpboard which had been insufficiently secured when stored by the contractor in Georgetown. Under the Longshoremen's Act, the contractor's insurance carrier paid the longshoreman compensation and furnished him medical services, without any formal award by the Deputy Commissioner. Claiming that, because of unsafe stowage of the cargo, the ship was unseaworthy and that the shipowner had neglected to furnish him with a safe place to work, the longshoreman sued the shipowner and obtained a judgment for a much larger sum, from which the contractor's insurance carrier was to be reimbursed for the amount it had advanced to the longshoreman.

Held: on the shipowner's third-party complaint against the contractor, the shipowner was entitled to reimbursement from the contractor for the amount of the judgment against the shipowner. Pp. 350 U. S. 125-135.

1. Section 5 of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, which provides that the liability of an employer prescribed in § 4 "shall be exclusive and in place of all other liability of such employer to the employee," does not preclude assertion by the shipowner of the contractor's contractual liability to it, though the contractor was also the employer of the injured longshoreman. Pp. 350 U. S. 128-132.

2. Even in the absence of an express agreement of indemnity, the contractor was obligated to reimburse the shipowner for damages caused it by the contractor's breach of its contract to stow the cargo properly and safely. Pp. 350 U. S. 132-134.

3. Halcyon Lines v. Haenn Ship Corp., 342 U. S. 282, distinguished. P. 350 U. S. 133.

Page 350 U. S. 125

4. That the shipowner had an obligation to supervise the stowage and had a right to reject unsafe stowage and did not do so does not bar the shipowner's right to recover from the contractor any damage caused by the contractor's failure to stow the rolls safely. Pp. 350 U. S. 134-135.

211 F.2d 277 affirmed.

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