Gillespie v. United States Steel Corporation

RESPONDENT: United States Steel Corporation
LOCATION: Criminal District Court, Parish of New Orleans

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 379 US 148 (1964)
ARGUED: Oct 13, 1964
DECIDED: Dec 07, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Gillespie v. United States Steel Corporation

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 13, 1964 in Gillespie v. United States Steel Corporation

Earl Warren:

Number 10, Mabel Gillespie, Administratrix, Petitioner versus United States Steel Corporation.

Mr. Day.

Jack G. Day:

Mr. Chief Justice, and May, it please the Court.

This case comes here on a writ of certiorari and I should say by way of preface at the outset that I think that we are entitled to have the facts alleged in our petition and set out in the record -- our complaint rather, and set out in the record taken as true.

Although we get here by way of a sustained motion to strike.

The facts in the case were, very briefly, that the administrator's decedent was helping in the shifting of a boat belonging to the respondent at Lorain, Ohio.

It was a bad day, the wind was high, raining, it was wet war on the dock, and wet war as a consistency about like grease and there was an odd shape to the dock which made it difficult to completely arrange a transport of the distance between the dock and the ship by the type of ladder which was extended to the decedent when he attempted to board the boat and was thrown into the water where at last, he was drowned.

Now this brings us to the main problem in the case, which has at least three facets which I should like to outline briefly before getting into the substance of the argument.

One is the availability of the doctrine of un-seaworthiness outside the Jones Act, coupled with a state wrongful death statute to give a cause of action to the beneficiaries and next of kin of those persons who may be killed wrongfully in state waters, even though the tort itself may have taken place under circumstances which make it a maritime tort.

The second question involves the question of whether in the Jones Act FELA nexus, the classes of beneficiaries are exclusive or whether they are cumulative.

And the third involved the question of the survival of an action for pain and suffering where there is a short interval between the time that those acts which ultimately results in death begin to occur and the time that death in fact takes place, and --

The Court of Appeals discussed but I don't find discussed in either of your briefs, and was this a final order?

Jack G. Day:

It was treated as a final order Your Honor.

I know it was treated that way but --

Jack G. Day:

I think it is for this reason, because the motion to strike took out of the petition of the complaint, all reference to wrongful death by virtue of an un-seaworthy condition, all reference to wrongful death statutes, state statutes, all reference to state survival statutes for all practical purposes, the rights of those persons other than that one in the primary class under the Jones Act were foreclosed.

So in effect, we have a final order as to them.

We have it particularly since there is no other statute such as the Death on the High Seas Act under which they might bring an action even though precluded from bringing one under the Jones Act.

So in that sense, it was quite final.

Well, I understand your argument but the question is whether it is final.

You had two -- you had two in effect two causes of action here didn't you?

Jack G. Day:

Yes sir, that's right.

One which you brought -- your client brought as administratrix of the decedent's estate, and the other in which he is sued as a guardian of an incompetent child or incompetent sister or brother, is that right?

Jack G. Day:

Sister, that's right.

And a single complaint.

Jack G. Day:

Single complaint.

And the District Court struck all the allegations that related to the un-seaworthiness count and to all references to the state for wrongful death statute.

Jack G. Day:

And survival, yes sir.

And survival, yes.

And in that posture, you took an appeal to the Court of Appeals as administratrix.

Jack G. Day: