Johnson v. United States
333 U.S. 46 (1948)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Johnson v. United States, 333 U.S. 46 (1948)

Johnson v. United States

No. 138

Argued December 10, 1947

Decided February 9, 1948

333 U.S. 46

Syllabus

1. While two seamen were working together, a block held by one fell and injured the other. The uncontradicted evidence was sufficient to support a finding that the injured seaman was not negligent. There was no proof as to the actual cause of the accident, though the testimony of the fellow seaman was available and was not put in evidence.

Held: the trial court was warranted under the rule of res ipsa loquitur in finding that the injury resulted from the negligence of the fellow seaman and that the shipowner was liable under the Jones Act of March 4, 1915, as amended by the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. Pp. 333 U. S. 46-50.

2. The rule of res ipsa loquitur means that the facts of the occurrence warrant the inference of negligence, not that they compel such an inference. P. 333 U. S. 48.

3. It is applicable to the acts of a fellow servant. P. 333 U. S. 49.

4. No act need be explicable only in terms of negligence in order for the rule of res ipsa loquitur to be invoked, since the rule deals only with permissible inferences from unexplained events. P. 333 U. S. 49.

5. The Jones Act of March 4, 1915, as amended by the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, makes the standard of liability of the Federal Employers' Liability Act applicable to suits by seamen for personal injuries suffered in the course of their employment, so that the shipowner becomes liable for injuries to a seaman resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of another employee. P. 333 U. S. 49.

6. There being ample evidence to support the findings of the two lower courts that a seaman injured in the course of his employment had incurred no expense or liability for his care and support at the home of his parents, denial of his claim for maintenance and cure while living with his parents is sustained. P. 333 U. S. 50.

160 F.2d 789 affirmed in part and reversed in part.

In a suit by a seaman under the Jones Act of March 4, 1915, as amended, the District Court awarded him damages for pain and suffering and loss of wages resulting from personal injuries suffered in the course of employment, but denied recovery for maintenance and cure after

Page 333 U. S. 47

a certain date. The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the judgment for pain and suffering and loss of wages and affirmed the denial of maintenance and cure. 160 F.2d 789. This Court granted certiorari. 332 U.S. 754. Affirmed in part and reversed in part, p. 333 U. S. 50.

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