A person employed by a fishing and canning company as a seaman,
fisherman, and for general work in and about a cannery was injured,
after the fishing season was over, while standing upon the shore
and endeavoring to push a stranded fishing boat into navigable
water for the purpose of floating it to a nearby dock, where it was
to be lifted out and stored for the winter. Held
injury, if within the admiralty jurisdiction, was of such a local
character as to be cognizable under a state compensation law. P.
276 U. S. 469
73 Calif.Dec 330, affirmed.
Page 276 U. S. 468
Certiorari, 275 U.S. 512, to a judgment of the Supreme Court of
California, affirming an award of the State Industrial Accident
MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.
While standing on the land in Alaska, respondent Peterson
endeavored to push into navigable water a stranded boat, 26 feet
long, theretofore used by him and another for taking fish, and
while so engaged sustained bodily injuries. The fishing season had
ended, the nets had been removed, and the boat, partly in the
water, was resting on the sand. The immediate purpose was to float
it to the dock nearby in order that it might be lifted thereon and
stored for the winter, according to the ordinary practice.
Petitioner is a California corporation engaged in the business
of taking fish in Alaska and canning them at its factory located in
that territory. Peterson resided in California. Within that state,
he entered into a contract with the association whereby he agreed
to go to Alaska as a seaman on its bark Star of Iceland,
and after arriving at the cannery to go ashore and act there as
directed -- "anything I was told to do." Among other things, he
made nets, fixed up the small boats always kept there, took them
out, and served as a fisherman on one of them.
The Industrial Accident Commission of California, purporting to
act under the laws of that state, made an award against the
petitioner and in favor of Peterson, and this was affirmed by the
Supreme Court. The judgment is
Page 276 U. S. 469
challenged here upon the sole ground that, when injured, he was
doing maritime work under a maritime contract, and that the rights
and liabilities of the parties must be determined by applying the
general rules of maritime law, and not otherwise. Union Fish
Co. v. Erickson, 248 U. S. 308
Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen, 244 U.
, and similar cases, are relied upon.
Whether in any possible view the circumstances disclose a cause
within the admiralty jurisdiction we need not stop to determine.
Even if an affirmative answer be assumed, the petitioner must fail.
Peterson was not employed merely to work on the bark or the fishing
boat. He also undertook to perform services as directed on land in
connection with the canning operations. When injured, certainly he
was not engaged in any work so directly connected with navigation
and commerce that to permit the rights of the parties to be
controlled by the local law would interfere with the essential
uniformity of the general maritime law. The work was really local
in character. The doctrine announced in Grant-Smith Porter Ship
Co. v. Rohde, 257 U. S. 469
Miller's Ind. Underwriters v. Braud, 270 U. S.
, 270 U. S. 64
incompatible with the petitioner's claim.
The judgment of the court below must be affirmed.