Ira S. Bushey & Sons, Inc. v. United States

398 F.2d 167 (2d Cir. 1968)



What is reasonably foreseeable in this context of respondeat superior is quite a different thing from the foreseeably unreasonable risk of harm that spells negligence. The foresight that should impel the prudent man to take precautions is not the same measure as that by which he should perceive the harm likely to flow from his long-run activity in spite of all reasonable precautions on his own part. An employer should be held to expect risks, to the public also, which arise out of and in the course of' his employment of labor.



Plaintiff was an owner of a drydock in which defendant federal government was docking a ship. Defendant's employee, a ship crewmember, was drunk and opened tank valves which caused the ship to fall and destroy parts of the drydock. The trial court granted judgment in plaintiff's favor without determining damages. Defendant appealed claiming defendant was not liable where the crew member's acts were not within the scope of his employment. The reviewing court held it had appellate jurisdiction where an admiralty act granted jurisdiction in cases in which public vessels caused tort damage. The reviewing court affirmed.



Did the trial court err in ruling that defendant was vicariously liable for the act of its employee?




Defendant was properly held liable for damages caused to the drydock. Where it was reasonably foreseeable that defendant's employee might cause some damage, whether intentionally or negligently, defendant was vicariously liable for its crewmember's negligence.

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