Scindia Steam Navigation Company, Ltd. v. Santos

PETITIONER: Scindia Steam Navigation Company, Ltd.
LOCATION: Western District Court of Kentucky

DOCKET NO.: 79-512
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 451 US 156 (1981)
ARGUED: Dec 01, 1980
DECIDED: Apr 21, 1981

Graydon S. Staring - on behalf of the Petitioner
James A. Grutz - on behalf of the Respondents

Facts of the case


Media for Scindia Steam Navigation Company, Ltd. v. Santos

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 01, 1980 in Scindia Steam Navigation Company, Ltd. v. Santos

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 21, 1981 in Scindia Steam Navigation Company, Ltd. v. Santos

Byron R. White:

The other case from the Ninth Circuit is Scindia Steam Navigation Company against Santos.

Here, Santos, a longshoreman, was injured while he was loading sacks of wheat into the hold of petitioner's vessel.

He sued the -- the shipowner claiming that his injury was due to the ship's defective crane and winch.

His assertion was that the shipowner had negligently permitted the longshoreman to use the crane.

The suit was brought under Section 905 (b) of Title 33 of the United States Code which was enacted 1972 and which specifically permits an injured longshoreman to recover damages from the shipowner if he can prove his injuries were caused by the shipowner's negligence.

The Section 905 (b), however, didn't define negligence and it has been left largely to the courts to spill out the standard care that shipowner must satisfy in the enumerable circumstances in which negligence may be claimed.

The lower federal courts have been in somewhat state of disarray to have it construe and apply Section 905 (b).

In this case, for example, the District Court granted summary judgment to the shipowner, an action which perhaps have been quite proper if its view of a -- it's a trial judge's view of Section 905 (b) had been correct.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit thought that it wasn't and set aside the judgment and ordered the case to go to trial.

We affirmed the judgment of the -- the Ninth Circuit.

We agree that summary judgment was improper in this case.

We have filed an opinion however, which differs substantially from the views of the Court of Appeals as to how Section 905 (b) should be construed and applied.

The Court is unanimous except that the Chief Justice took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Also, Justice Brennan has filed a concurring opinion in which Justices Marshall and Blackmun have joined.

Justice Powell also has concurred and his opinion is joined by Justice Rehnquist.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice White.