Gonsalves v. Morse Dry Dock & Repair Co.,
266 U.S. 171 (1924)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Gonsalves v. Morse Dry Dock & Repair Co., 266 U.S. 171 (1924)

Gonsalves v. Morse Dry Dock & Repair Company

No. 3

Argued October 6, 1924

Decided November 17, 1924

266 U.S. 171




An action by an employee for personal injuries attributable to his employer's negligence and suffered while the employee was engaged on repairs of a vessel then resting in a dock floating on navigable waters, is within the jurisdiction of the district court in admiralty.


Appeal from a decree of the district court dismissing a libel in admiralty for want of Jurisdiction.

Page 266 U. S. 172

MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Proceeding in admiralty appellant sought to recover damages for personal injuries received while he was employed by respondent and engaged in repairing the steamer Starmount. Upon motion, the trial court dismissed the libel, holding that it had no jurisdiction of the cause.

The libel alleges that respondent had charge of the work of repairing the shell plates of the steamer, then resting in a floating dock at Twenty-Seventh Street, Brooklyn; that, while employed by respondent and working on board, appellant suffered injuries through the explosion of a blau torch which the employer negligently permitted to be out of repair. The prayer was for monition according to the course and practice in admiralty and for damages.

Since the decree below (June 14, 1921), we have decided Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. v. Kierejewski, 261 U. S. 479. The opinion there controls this cause unless the injuries sustained by appellant were not the result of tort committed and effective on navigable waters. In The R. W. Parsons, 191 U. S. 17, 191 U. S. 33, this Court held that repairs to a vessel while in an ordinary dry dock were not made on land. The Jefferson, 215 U. S. 130. Here, repairs were made upon the ship while supported by a structure floating on navigable waters. Clearly the accident did not occur upon land. The doctrine followed in Cope v. Vallette Dry Dock Company, 119 U. S. 625, 119 U. S. 627, that "no structure that is not a ship or vessel is a subject of salvage" has no application. That admiralty jurisdiction in tort matters depends upon locality is settled.

The judgment below must be reversed.

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