Aguilar v. Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey

In Aguilar v. Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey, 318 U.S. 724, 63 S.Ct. 930, 87 L.Ed. 1107 (1943), the injured seaman was a messman on a steamship engaged in coastwise trade between New Orleans and East Coast and Gulf Coast ports. While the vessel was moored in a port in Philadelphia, the seaman was injured as he left the ship on shore leave. Id. at 725, 63 S.Ct. 930. In a consolidated companion case, a seaman on shore leave was injured as he walked back to his ship by the driver of a motor vehicle not owned, operated or controlled by the ship owner. Id. at 725-26, 63 S.Ct. 930. The Court explained its holding that the seamen were entitled to cure and maintenance as follows: From the earliest times, maritime nations have recognized that unique hazards, emphasized by unusual tenure and control, attend the work of seamen. The physical risks created by natural elements, and the limitations of human adaptability to work at sea, enlarge the narrower and more strictly occupational hazards of sailing and operating vessels. And the restrictions which accompany living aboard a ship for long periods at a time combine with the constant shuttling between unfamiliar ports to deprive the seaman of the comforts and opportunities for leisure, essential for living and working, that accompany most land occupations. Furthermore, the seaman's unusual subjection to authority adds the weight of what would be involuntary servitude for others to these extraordinary hazards and limitations of ship life. Accordingly, with the combined object of encouraging marine commerce and assuring the well-being of seamen, maritime nations uniformly have imposed broad responsibilities for their health and safety upon the owners of ships. In this country these notions were reflected early, and have since been expanded, in legislation designed to secure the comfort and health of seamen aboard ship, hospitalization at home and care abroad. The statutes are uniform in evincing solicitude that the seamen shall have at hand the barest essentials for existence. They do this in two ways. One is by recognizing the shipowner's duty to supply them, and the other by providing for care at public expense. The former do not create the duty. That existed long before the statutes were adopted. They merely recognize the preexisting obligation and put specific legal sanctions, generally criminal, behind it. (Id. at 727-29, 63 S.Ct. 930)