U.S. Supreme Court
Roper v. United States, 368 U.S. 20 (1961)
Roper v. United States
Argued October 12, 16, 1961
Decided November 6, 1961
368 U.S. 20
This libel in personam against the United States under the Suits in Admiralty Act was brought by an employee of a stevedoring company to recover damages for injuries sustained while unloading grain from a government-owned ship at a pier. The ship had been deactivated, "mothballed" and rendered unfit for navigation, and was being used solely for the storage of grain owned by the Government. Without being prepared or relicensed for navigation, it had been towed to a grain elevator, loaded with grain, towed back to its anchorage, and then towed again to the grain elevator for unloading when the grain was sold. The trial court dismissed the libel, holding that, since the vessel was not in navigation, there was no warranty of seaworthiness. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
Held: the existence of the warranty of seaworthiness depends on whether the vessel is in navigation, which is a question of fact; on the record in this case, this Court cannot hold that the finding of the trial court in this regard was clearly erroneous. Pp. 20-24.
282 F.2d 413, affirmed.