Admiralty–Liability–Transitory Unseaworthiness

While loading grain aboard a ship, the petitioners, longshoremen, were injured when they inhaled noxious fumes from a shot of grain released into the vessel’s hold, the grain having been treated with a chemical insecticide by unknown parties at an inland point. Petitioners brought suit against the city, which owned the grain elevators, and the shipowner, alleging, among other things, that the vessel was unseaworthy. The district court found the ship to be seaworthy, and the circuit court of appeals affirmed the judgment for the defendant. On certiorari the Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded the case to the court of appeals for consideration in light of Mitchell v. Trawler Racer, Inc. which had been decided in the interim. However, the circuit court again affirmed the district court’s decision. On certiorari, held, affirmed, three Justices dissenting. The cause of the injury was not any defect in the ship, but rather the isolated and completely unforeseeable introduction of a noxious agent from without. Morales v. City of Galveston, 370 U.S. 165 (1962).