Shipowner Not Liable for Acts of Amateur Chiropractor

Tuesday, July 05, 2005
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that a shipowner is not liable for the acts of a crewmember who is an amateur chiropractor. In the instant case, plaintiff crewman was severely injured when another crewmember twisted (tractioned) his neck without consent. The crewmember was an amateur chiropractor and was attempting, albeit unsuccessfully, to relieve perceived muscle ache. Plaintiff brought suit against the shipowner, alleging, among other things, vicarious liability and direct liability under the Jones Act. The court held that the shipowner is not vicariously liable because there was no evidence that the acts of the amateur chiropractor were within the scope of his employment (mate’s assistant). The court further held that the shipowner was not directly liable because there was no evidence that it knew or should have known of the propensities of this crewmember. Sobieski v. Ispat Island, Inc., No. 04-3001 (7th Cir. - HK Law)

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