Is An Act of Navigation Furnishing An Opportunity to Cause An Injury Exempted from Navigational Claims ?
In Locke v. State of New York, 140 NY 480 , a person standing on a barge was injured by a carelessly lowered draw bridge.
The Court of Appeals expressly rejected an argument that the proviso exempting navigational claims applied only to instances in which the act of navigating the waters (as opposed to the act of moving a fixed, mechanical device) was one of the concurring causes of the injury.
The Locke Court explained its conclusion in this fashion:
"The man who manages the locks and bridges in order to permit the passage of boats upon the canal, is engaged in navigating the canal, within the meaning of the statute, in the same sense as the man who directs or manages the power by means of which the boats are propelled upon the water. the movement of the boat upon the waters of the canal and the contact of the bridge above with the boat, as it was passing under it, were the two concurring causes that produced the injury in this case.
"Both were acts of navigation, because both were necessary in order to effectuate the passage of boats upon the waters of the canal." (140 NY at 483).
The Third Department later gave a slightly different explanation of the holding in Locke, stating that in that case "the injury was in no way attributable to or the result of the navigation of the canals, except that the act of navigation furnished the opportunity for the happening of the injury"