Business Associations, Pages 85–89

Ira S. Bushey & Sons, Inc. v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1968

Facts:

While defendant had a Coast Guard ship in plaintiff's dry dock for an overhaul, Coast Guardsman Lane came back from shore leave drunk and, for some reason, in his stupor turned three large wheels on the drydock wall twenty times each, opening the drydock valves on one side, before going back on-board. This flooded the drydock, knocking the ship off the blocks and into the wall, and thus sank parts of the drydock and the ship, although no one was injured. Plaintiff sued for the damage caused.

Procedural History:

District court granted plaintiff compensation.

Issue:

Was Lane acting in the scope of his employment when he caused the accident?

Rule:

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"The employer should be held to expect risks, to the public also, which arise 'out of an in the course of his employment of labor.'"

Reasoning:

Lane's conduct was not so "unforeseeable" to make it unfair to charge the defendant with responsibility. Sailors are known to drink a lot while on shore leave, so defendant must foresee that they could cause some harm in the drydock as a result.

Holding:

Lane was acting in the scope of his employment. Affirmed.

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