Monday, November 11, 2013

United States v. Carroll Towing Co. case brief

United States v. Carroll Towing Co. case brief summary
159 F.2d 169 (2d Cir. 1947)

Appellants sought review of a judgment from the district court which held them liable for damage to a barge as well as for lost cargo.


  • Appellant barge owner chartered barge to the railroad. 
  • The barge, with a cargo of flour, was moored to end of the pier. 
  • Other barges were moored outside the barge and her lines to the pier were not strengthened. 
  • The appellant tug owner chartered a tug to the company to drill out one of the barges. 
  • On board the tug was a harbormaster who was employed by the company. 
  • The harbormaster and the deckhand both went aboard the barge and readjusted its fasts to their satisfaction. 
  • After doing so, they threw off the line and boarded the tug, which backed away from the outside barge. 
  • A tier off the pier broke adrift because the fasts from the barge carried away. 
  • The Barge hit the tanker, and the tanker's propeller broke a hole in the barge. 
  • The barge careened, dumped her cargo, and sank. 
  • The Court held that the tug owner was liable to United States, railroad, and appellant barge owner. 
  • The railroad was held secondarily liable to appellant barge owner. 
  • The court reversed adopting the formula of whether the burden was less than the injury multiplied by the probability for determining duty.


Judgment reversed; after adopting the "burden was less than the injury multiplied by the probability" formula, the court of appeals reassessed the parties' liability for damages and remanded.

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