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Hickman v. Taylor - 170 F.2d 327 (3d Cir. 1948)

Rule:

Were the question of the interpretation of the federal survival statutes one of first impression, the approach of the state courts would be useful in determining the issue before the court. However, the Employers' Liability Act, 45 U.S.C.A. §§ 51 and 59, precedent exists applying these very statutes, pointedly excludes life value from the amount of recovery;

Facts:

Plaintiff, administrator of a deceased tugboat worker's estate, brought a negligence action against defendant tugboat owner and the railroad. This arose after the railroad float sank, struck the tug, leading to the sinking of the tug and the death of the worker. The district court absolved the railroad from liability and found the tugboat owner liable.

Issue:

Is the worker’s estate entitled to recover the economic value of probable life expectancy?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The court held that the administrator was not entitled to recover the economic value of the tugboat worker's life for the period of his probable life expectancy because case law precedent excluded life value from the amount of recovery. The court further determined that the district court properly determined that the misdeeds, which brought about the unfortunate incident, were attributable solely to the faulty seamanship of the operators of the tug. The court concluded that despite the failure of the railroad to properly mark the sunken float with a lighted buoy, it was not liable for the drowning.

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