Harden v Gordon case brief summary
US Circuit Court of the District of Maine, 1823
- William Harden sued Joshua Gordon, master of the brig Enterprize, for unpaid wages on a voyage from Portland to the Caribbean.
- The libel also included a claim for the expenses occasioned by the sickness of the plaintiff in a foreign port in the course of the voyage.
- The interests of the seamen are tied to the ship’s owner. Therefore, the expenses re health are a charge upon the ship.
- The master will watch over the seamen’s health with vigilance and fidelity. He will take the best methods, as well to prevent diseases, as to ensure a speedy recovery from them.
- This encourages seamen to engage in perilous voyages with more promptitude and at lower wages.
- Every court should watch with jealousy an encroachment upon the rights of seamen.
- Seamen are considered as placed under the dominion and influence of men who have naturally acquired a mastery over them.
- If there is any undue inequality in the terms, any disproportion in the bargain, any sacrifice of rights on one side which are not compensated by extraordinary benefits on the other, the judicial interpretation of the transaction is that the bargain is unjust and unreasonable, that advantage has been taken of the situation of the weaker party, and that pro tanto the bargain ought to be set aside as inequitable.
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