Admiralty – Jones Act – Applicability to Dredge Employees as Seaman

Petitioner, a laborer, was employed by respondent on a canal digging project. His duties were those of a handyman on respondent’s dredge, which was temporarily attached to shore, and his work consisted of carrying supplies from shore to the dredge, cleaning the dredge, and doing errands ashore. The employee was not a member of a maritime union, but was a member of a laborers’ union. He lived at home, worked on an eight hour shift, and brought his meals to his place of employment. He was not subject to the supervision of the officer of the dredge but received his orders from the labor foreman in charge of the construction project, who worked on shore. Petitioner had no duties connected with moving the dredge, and testified that he was never on it when it was pushed from one location to another. While in the course of his employment on shore, petitioner was injured and brought an action under the Jones Act against respondent in the city court. The court rendered judgment for the employee, and the corporation appealed. The Illinois appellate court reversed the judgment on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that petitioner was a member of a crew. The Illinois Supreme Court denied a petition for appeal, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari. Held, reversed and remanded. There was sufficient evidence to sustain the jury’s finding that petitioner was a member of the dredge’s crew. Senko v. La Crosse Dredging Corp., 352 U.S. 370 (1957).