Shipowner Liable for Drunken Crewmember?

Friday, November 05, 2004
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that a shipowner may be liable in negligence for injuries incurred by one crewmember when he was assaulted by another crewmember who was intoxicated. In the instant case, a seaman came aboard the ship intoxicated. The master ordered the crewman to sleep it off in his bunk. The crewman later became belligerent and assaulted another crewmember, who was severely injured. The injured crewmember sued the owner alleging negligence and unseaworthiness. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the owner and the crewmember appealed. The appellate court ruled that the master violated the company policy when he allowed the intoxicated crewman to come on board. The trier of fact could find that such action by the master constituted negligence. Hasty v. Trans Atlas Boats Inc., No. 03-30884 (5th Cir., HK Law).

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