Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Since the 1946 Supreme Court decision in Seas Shipping Co. v. Sieracki, the seaman's traditional remedy based on absolute liability of the vessel for an unseaworthy condition also has been available to longshoremen. Limited to longshoremen working aboard the vessel, the Sieracki opinion emphasized that the work of loading and unloading vessels was a maritime service formerly and historically rendered by seamen, and reasoned that because the work now performed by longshoremen involved risks commensurate with those undertaken by seamen, longshoremen injured on board ship should be entitled to unlimited recovery under the seaworthiness doctrine. The seaworthiness doctrine was expanded further in Gutierrez v. Waterman Steamship Corp.' In Gutierrez the Supreme Court, finding jurisdiction under the Admiralty Extension Act, extended the seaworthiness doctrine to include injuries causally connected with the ship, but incurred on shore. Therefore, a longshoreman injured on shore was held to have a right of action for unseaworthiness against the shipowner, despite the exclusive remedy clause of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) under which he also was covered.'