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Hickman v. Taylor - 75 F. Supp. 528 (E.D. Pa. 1947)

Rule:

For harm resulting to a third person from the tortious conduct of another, a person is liable if he (a) orders or induces such conduct, knowing of the conditions under which the act is done or intending the consequences which ensue, or (b) knows that the other's conduct constitutes a breach of duty and gives substantial assistance or encouragement to the other so to conduct himself. Advice or encouragement to act operates as a moral support to a tortfeasor and if the act encouraged is known to be tortious, it has the same effect upon the liability of the adviser as participation or physical assistance

Facts:

The plaintiff was appointed, under the law of Pennsylvania, administrator of Norman E. Hickman, a seaman who was drowned when the tug J. M. Taylor on which he was employed capsized on the Delaware River. This action to recover damages for the death is against two defendants, Taylor and Anderson, the employers of the seaman, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which is alleged to have participated in the employer's negligent conduct. The cause of action against Taylor and Anderson is based upon the Jones Act, 46 U.S.C.A. § 688, and that against the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company upon the maritime law of torts. By stipulation the case was tried to the Court without a jury.

Issue:

Were defendants, decedent seaman’s employer and the corporation (railroad) that employed the tug to tow the submerged float, liable for negligence, ?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The court entered judgment against the seamen's employers, finding that the failure to sound a general alarm or otherwise alert the crew was negligence on the part of the master and officers of the tug. The rising of the carfloat to the surface was the cause of the disaster and it should have been anticipated as likely to occur by experienced seamen familiar with the characteristics of such vessels and with towing operations. Further, it was negligence for the tug to lie moored only by the towline to the sunken carfloat and this negligence was a substantial factor in causing the sinking. The court entered judgment in favor of the railroad. While the railroad had arranged for the towing operation, the railroad neither retained nor exercised any control as to the manner of doing the work over the tug, its captain or crew.

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