DESPER V. STARVED ROCK FERRY CO., 342 U. S. 187 (1952)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Desper v. Starved Rock Ferry Co., 342 U.S. 187 (1952)

Desper v. Starved Rock Ferry Co.

No. 231

Argued December 6, 1951

Decided January 2, 1952

342 U.S. 187


1. The scope of the word "seaman," as used in the Jones Act, was not extended by the 1939 Amendment to the Federal Employers' Liability Act to include one who was not a "seaman" before. Pp. 342 U. S. 189-190.

2. Whether an injured person was a "seaman" entitled to the benefits of the Jones Act depends largely on the facts of the particular case and the activity in which he was engaged at the time of injury. P. 342 U. S. 190.

3. Decedent had been employed as an operator of one of a fleet of motorboats carrying sightseers on a river during the summer months only. His employment had terminated in December, after he had helped to lay the boats up for the winter. He was reemployed the next March, and injured in April while helping to paint, clean, and waterproof the boats, preparing them for navigation. At that time, none of the boats was afloat, none had a captain or crew, and the work being done was of the kind that, in the case of larger vessels, would customarily be done exclusively by shore-based personnel.

Held: At the time of his injury, decedent was not a "seaman" within the purview of the Jones Act. Pp. 342 U. S. 188-192.

4. The fact that decedent had been, or expected in the future to be, a seaman did not render maritime work which was not maritime in its nature. P. 342 U. S. 191.

188 F.2d 177, affirmed.

The District Court awarded petitioner a judgment under the Jones Act for the death of her son from injuries sustained in his employment by respondent. The Court of Appeals reversed. 188 F.2d 177. This Court granted certiorari. 342 U.S. 847. Affirmed, p. 342 U. S. 192.

Page 342 U. S. 188

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