Stewart v. Dutra Construction Co.

543 U.S. 481, 125 S.Ct. 118, 160 L.Ed.2d 932, 2005 AMC 609 (2005)

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Stewart v. Dutra Construction Co.

United States Supreme Court
543 U.S. 481, 125 S.Ct. 118, 160 L.Ed.2d 932, 2005 AMC 609 (2005)

Facts

Willard Stewart (plaintiff) was a marine engineer on the Super Scoop, the world’s largest maritime dredge. The Super Scoop was owned by Dutra Construction Co. (Dutra) (defendant) and was operating in Boston Harbor on Boston’s “Big Dig” project, constructing a massive transportation tunnel running beneath the city and the harbor. The dredge was a floating platform with a giant bucket that removed sand from the waterway floor. During the Big Dig, the Super Scoop moved itself, its equipment, and its crew slowly across the harbor as it dredged the trench for the tunnel. Stewart was seriously injured on a barge adjacent to the Super Scoop when the dredge hit the barge and jolted it, causing him to fall headfirst through a hatch. The dredge was not underway at the time of the accident. Stewart sued Dutra in federal court under the Jones Act, alleging that he was a seaman injured by his employer’s negligence. Dutra moved for summary judgment, claiming that Stewart could not be considered a seaman because the Super Scoop was not a vessel for purposed of the Jones Act. The district court granted summary judgment to Dutra. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s decision, and Stewart appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Thomas, J.)

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