Weade v. Dichmann, Wright & Pugh, Inc.
337 U.S. 801 (1949)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Weade v. Dichmann, Wright & Pugh, Inc., 337 U.S. 801 (1949)

Weade v. Dichmann, Wright & Pugh, Inc.

No. 179

Argued February 1, 1949

Decided June 27, 1949

337 U.S. 801

Syllabus

1. Respondent was employed by the United States as a general agent under the terms of the war-time standard form of general agency agreement to manage certain phases of the business of a ship owned by the United States and operated by the War Shipping Administration. By an addendum to the agreement, it was also required to arrange for the transportation of passengers as agent of the United States. Certain women passengers and the husband of one of them sued respondent for damages sustained through injuries to the women resulting from the wrongful act of a member of the ship's crew.

Held: Respondent was not liable as the owner pro hac vice, or as a common carrier operating the vessel, or as the employer of the master or crew. Cosmopolitan Shipping Co. v. McAllister, ante, p. 337 U. S. 783. Pp. 337 U. S. 802-809.

2. Performance of such shoreside duties as issuing tickets, maintaining the vessel in the service directed by the United States, maintaining terminals and offices, arranging for loading and unloading passengers, arranging for advertising, provisioning the ship, and procuring officers and crew for hire by the master, all as agent of the United States, did not make the general agent liable as a common carrier to the public or anyone. Pp. 337 U. S. 805-808.

3. Petitioners argued here that respondent as an agent is independently liable for its negligence in procuring unsuitable crew members,

Page 337 U. S. 802

but this theory of liability was not relied upon at the trial, instructions upon the point were not given or requested, and no exceptions were taken by petitioner to the instructions given.

Held: In these circumstances, error cannot be urged here as to this point. P. 337 U. S. 808.

4. There being suggestions in the complaint and evidence of alleged liability of respondent to petitioners for respondent's own negligence while acting s general agent, the Court of Appeals, which reversed the trial court's judgment for petitioners, erred in directing the trial court to enter a judgment for respondent. Pp. 337 U. S. 808-809.

5. No opinion is expressed as to the circumstances in which respondent might be liable for its own actions as general agent. P. 337 U. S. 809.

168 F.2d 914 modified and affirmed.

A Federal District Court gave a judgment to certain passengers and the husband of one of them against a general agent employed by the United States to manage certain phases of the business of a ship owned by the United States and operated by the War Shipping Administration, for injuries sustained as a result of the wrongful conduct of a member of the ship's crew. The Court of Appeals reversed. 168 F.2d 914. This Court granted certiorari. 335 U.S. 810. Modified and affirmed, p. 337 U. S. 809.

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