Bisso v. Inland Waterways Corp.,
349 U.S. 85 (1955)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Bisso v. Inland Waterways Corp., 349 U.S. 85 (1955)

Bisso v. Inland Waterways Corporation

No. 50

Argued February 28, 1955

Decided May 16, 1955

349 U.S. 85


1. A towboat owner may not validly contract against all liability for his own negligent towage. Pp. 349 U. S. 85-95.

(a) This Court now accepts as controlling a judicial rule, based on public policy, which invalidates contracts releasing towers from all liability for their negligence. P. 349 U. S. 90.

(b) The Steamer Syracuse, 12 Wall. 167, and The Wash Gray, 277 U. S. 66, followed. Pp. 349 U. S. 86-92.

(c) Sun Oil Co. v. Dalzell Towing Co., 287 U. S. 291, distinguished. Pp. 349 U. S. 92-94.

2. The rule against contractual exemption of a towboat owner from responsibility for his own negligence cannot be defeated by providing in a contract that all employees of a towboat shall be employees of the towed vessel, when the latter "employment" is purely a fiction. Pp. 349 U. S. 94-95.

211 F.2d 401 reversed.

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