Mitchell v. Trawler Racer, Inc.

362 U.S. 539, 80 S.Ct. 926, 4 L.Ed.2d 941, 1960 AMC 1503 (1960)

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Mitchell v. Trawler Racer, Inc.

United States Supreme Court
362 U.S. 539, 80 S.Ct. 926, 4 L.Ed.2d 941, 1960 AMC 1503 (1960)

Facts

Frank Mitchell (plaintiff) was a crew member on the fishing vessel Racer, which was owned and operated by Trawler Racer, Inc. (defendant). Mitchell was injured when he stepped onto a railing to reach a pier ladder and slipped. The railing was slippery because it had become coated with fish slime during the unloading of the catch the Racer had just brought in. Mitchell sued Trawler Racer in federal district court for a Jones Act negligence claim, for unseaworthiness, and for maintenance and cure. The district court instructed the jury that recovery under either the negligence claim or the unseaworthiness claim required a finding that the unsafe condition must have existed long enough for the shipowner to have known and been able to fix the condition. Mitchell alleged that the unseaworthiness claim did not require a showing of knowledge of the unseaworthy condition. The jury awarded Mitchell maintenance and cure but found for Trawler Racer on both the negligence and the unseaworthiness claims. Mitchell appealed, and the court of appeals affirmed the decision, holding that a shipowner has a duty only of reasonable care under the circumstances for unseaworthy conditions that arise during a voyage. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Stewart, J.)

Dissent (Harlan, J.)

Dissent (Frankfurter, J.)

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