Monday, May 19, 2014
Whittington v. Sewer Construction Company case brief
Whittington v. Sewer Construction Company, 4th Cir. 1976
Facts: Whittington was employed in dismantling a bridge in the middle a river. There was
a wench attached to the bridge where they would lower material onto a barge below. Whittington worked for a company operating cranes but on this particular day he was working on the barge. The defendant was negligent in that the plaintiff was being lowered from an overhead bridge to the barge and in being lowered, the plaintiff fell into barge and was injured.
Rule: One who seeks to recover for injuries in a suit based upon admiralty jurisdiction
must show (1) that his injuries occurred upon navigable waters and had a maritime nexus, or (2) that the injuries were caused by a vessel in navigable waters or an appurtenance of the vessel or (3) that the person injured was a seaman, a member of a crew of a vessel, injured in the course of his employment.
Reasoning: Before you get to the merits of the case you must first decide if the court has
jurisdiction. The plaintiff’s injuries do not qualify under the first ground of admiralty jurisdiction as injuries occurring upon navigable waters and having a maritime nexus. The alleged tortious conduct involved the shore-based winch and its attached chocker. Since the accident was “initiated” while the plaintiff was upon an extension of the land and involved only shore-based equipment and conduct, no admiralty jurisdiction exists. The defendant was also not injured by a vessel in navigation or an appurtenance thereof. The winch was located on the bridge.
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