CHELENTIS V. LUCKENBACH S.S. CO., INC., 247 U. S. 372 (1918)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Chelentis v. Luckenbach S.S. Co., Inc., 247 U.S. 372 (1918)

Chelentis v. Luckenbach Steamship Company, Incorporated

No. 657

Argued April 18, 1918

Decided June 3, 1918

247 U.S. 372


By the general maritime law, the vessel owner is liable only for the maintenance, cure, and wages of a seaman injured in the service of his .ship, by the negligence of a member of the crew, whether

Page 247 U. S. 373

a superior officer or not, and this liability is not subject to be enlarged to full common law indemnity by the law of a state. Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen, 244 U. S. 205. So held in a case brought in a state court of New York and removed to the district court, to recover full common law damages from a Delaware owner for injuries received at sea on a voyage to New York.

Section 20 of the Seamen's Act of March 4, 1915, c. 153, 38 Stat. 1185, declaring "seamen having command shall not be held to be fellow servants with those under their authority," was not intended to substitute the common law measure of liability for the maritime rule in such cases.

The Judiciary Act of 1789, § 9, giving exclusive original admiralty and maritime jurisdiction to the district courts, saves "to suitor, in all cases, the right of a common law remedy, where the common law is competent to give it." Held that this, recognizing the fundamental distinction between rights and remedies, allows a right sanctioned by maritime law to be enforced through an appropriate common law remedy, but does not give a plaintiff his election to have the defendant's liability measured by common law standards instead of those prescribed by the maritime law.

243 F.5d 6 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 247 U. S. 378

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