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WHITE v. AMERICAN MAIL LINE

November 14, 1949

WHITE
v.
AMERICAN MAIL LINE, Limited



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BOWEN

Plaintiff, chief steward on defendant's S.S. Ocean Mail, on the 12th day of March, 1948, in navigable waters at Portland, Oregon, while in the course of plaintiff's employment in discharging soiled ship's messroom linen, fell through the open hatch space caused by missing hatch boards at the No. 3 sheltered deck hatch and sustained a fractured skull and injuries to his brain tissue and other injuries, for which he sought recovery on his first cause of action in the sum of $ 100,000, and for the reasonable cost of his maintenance and cure he sought recovery on his second cause of action in the further sum of $ 6480.

In its answer, defendant denied negligence on its own part, and, as defenses against plaintiff's first cause of action, alleged affirmatively that as plaintiff was Chief Steward of said vessel, he was on behalf of the owner and operator of the vessel the person charged with the duty of furnishing a safe place to work, and that, therefore, he could not recover from defendant; that such injuries were caused by risks normally assumed by men following the sea and sailing in the capacity of Chief Steward; that plaintiff's injuries were caused by his own negligence in unnecessarily choosing as a work area a portion of the vessel taken over by stevedores who necessarily at the time had certain openings in the various hatches; and that plaintiff's injuries were caused by his own negligence in 'walking backwards on an open hatch', and in failure to take proper precautions for his own safety.

 In its answer, defendant denied all the allegations in plaintiff's second cause of action for recovery of the reasonable cost of his maintenance and cure.

 The trial resulted in a jury's verdict for plaintiff for $ 42,500 on his first cause of action and for $ 6400 on his second cause of action. Thereupon, defendant moved for a new trial upon the grounds of excessive verdict and improper instructions.

19491114

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