Friday, October 19, 2012

The T.J. Hooper case brief

The T.J. Hooper Case Summary
60 F.2d 737 (2d. Cir. 1932)

Procedural History
•    Defendant owner of two barges and third-party defendant owner of two tugs appealed an interlocutory decree from the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York, which declared the tugs and the barges jointly and severally liable to plaintiff cargo owners because all of the vessels were unseaworthy.

•    Plaintiff cargo owners sued defendant owner of barges which sank in a storm, who then sued third-party defendant owner of tugs which towed the barges. The trial court found all the vessels unseaworthy, and held each tug and barge jointly and severally liable to plaintiff cargo owners. Both defendant and third-party defendant appealed.

•    Although custom may be evidence of the common standard of care in a given industry or relevant community, it is nevertheless not conclusive but rather must meet the test of reasonable prudence.

•    The court affirmed the decree holding defendant barge owner and third-party defendant tug owner jointly and severally liable to plaintiff cargo owner because all the vessels were unseaworthy as the barges leaked during storms and pumps were not properly inspected and the tugs did not have receiving sets for weather reports.

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