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KOSSICK V. UNITED FRUIT, 365 U. S. 731 (1961)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Kossick v. United Fruit, 365 U.S. 731 (1961)

Kossick v. United Fruit

No. 96

Argued February 20, 1961

Decided April 17, 1961

365 U.S. 731


In a diversity of citizenship suit in a Federal District Court in New York by petitioner, a seaman, against respondent, a shipowner, the complaint alleged that: while a member of the crew of respondent's vessel, petitioner suffered an ailment which was not attributable to any fault of respondent but which entitled him to maintenance and cure; he requested private treatment at respondent's expense; this was denied, but respondent promised that, if petitioner would accept treatment at a Public Health Service Hospital, respondent would assume responsibility for all consequences of improper or inadequate treatment; petitioner did so, and suffered injury as a result of improper treatment. The District Court dismissed the complaint because it failed to allege that the agreement was in writing and such a verbal agreement is void under the New York Statute of Frauds.

Held: it was error to apply the New York Statute of Frauds to bar proof of the agreement alleged in the complaint. Pp. 365 U. S. 731-742.

(a) The alleged agreement was sufficiently related to peculiarly maritime concerns as not to be, without more, beyond the pale of admiralty law, which regards oral contracts as valid. Pp. 365 U. S. 735-738.

(b) It was not, nevertheless, of such a "local" nature that its validity should be judged by state law. Pp. 365 U. S. 738-742.

275 F.2d 500, reversed.

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