Hellenic Lines Ltd. v. Rhoditis

PETITIONER: Hellenic Lines Ltd.
LOCATION: Holmes County Board of Education

LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 398 US 306 (1970)
ARGUED: Apr 21, 1970
DECIDED: Jun 08, 1970

Facts of the case


Media for Hellenic Lines Ltd. v. Rhoditis

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 21, 1970 in Hellenic Lines Ltd. v. Rhoditis

Warren E. Burger:

Number 661, Hellenic Lines against Rhoditis.

Mr. Estabrook, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

James M. Estabrook:

Thank you, Your Honor.

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

I represent the petitioner herein in a petition for certiorari from the Fifth Circuit.

George Wood, the original counsel of record who tried this case in Mobile and who argued the case in the Fifth Circuit is very sorry he's unable to be here.

He called me about two weeks ago and said he had the recurrence of a heart condition, asked me if I could possibly argue.

I agreed.

I was hoping to see him here but unfortunately his brother passed away on Saturday right after a golf game and George was unable to attend.

I represent not only the petitioners herein but I also submitted a brief amicus for the Royal Greek Government.

As I said before this is an appeal -- a petition for certiorari by Hellenic Lines Limited and Universal Cargo Carriers from a decision of the Fifth Circuit affirming an admiralty decree in the Southern District of Alabama Southern Division in favor of the libellant below the respondent here.

The accident occurred August 3, 1965 in a libel in rem and in personam was filed August 13, 1965.

So the case came up under the old admiralty rules.

Briefly, the facts which are pertinent are that Rhoditis, the libellant below and the respondent here was a Greek seaman with a wife and two children in Greece.

He is a resident of Greece.

He joined the Greek Flag Motorship Hellenic Hero in Heraklion Crete.

He signed the standard Greek articles.

While the opinion of the District Court contained in the findings and conclusions stated he is illiterate.

He is practically illiterate in English.

The record is disclosing that he can read and write only figures and write only his address in English but that he can read and write Greek since he can write letters to his wife and he can read Greek.

The Hellenic Hero, a Greek flag vessel was sailing in the United States, India, Pakistan Trade.

At the time the depositions herein were taken, the Suez Canal was either open or had just been closed.

Now, this trade through Suez no longer exists.

The practical difference, however, is this that whereas in -- when the depositions were taken and on the record it appears that Hellenic Lines had 20 ships, 24 ships sailing out of New York and U.S. ports and only 12 ships out of European ports based on Pireas at present.

The American-based ships are down to 20 and the European ships are up to 19.

The -- also there is some --

Warren E. Burger:

Well, is this not a situation which fluctuates from time to time depending on the demands for shipping?

James M. Estabrook:

Of course it does.

The demands of this case happened to be away from the American trade and in favor to foreign trade also there while the report, the facts as stated by the trial judge stated there was no intermediate traffic at present time, there is a considerable amount of trade between intermediate ports particularly between the Indian, Pakistan ports and South Africa.

Briefly, the acts did occur in this manner.