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COOPER STEVEDORING CO., INC. V. FRITZ KOPKE, INC., 417 U. S. 106 (1974)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cooper Stevedoring Co., Inc. v. Fritz Kopke, Inc., 417 U.S. 106 (1974)

Cooper Stevedoring Co., Inc. v. Fritz Kopke, Inc.

No. 73-726

Argued April 15-16, 1974

Decided May 28, 1974

417 U.S. 106

Syllabus

A longshoreman was injured when, while loading a vessel owned by one respondent and time chartered to the other (hereinafter collectively the Vessel), he stepped into a concealed gap between crates which had previously been loaded by petitioner. The longshoreman then sued the Vessel, which filed a third-party complaint against petitioner. The District Court found both the Vessel and petitioner negligent, and divided the liability equally. On petitioner's appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held: The award of contribution between joint tortfeasors in a noncollision maritime case was proper under the circumstances. On the facts, no countervailing considerations detract from the well established maritime rule allowing contribution between joint tortfeasors, since where the longshoreman, not being an employee of petitioner, could have proceeded against either the Vessel or petitioner, or both, and thus could have elected to make petitioner bear its share of the damages, there is no reason why the Vessel should not be accorded the same right. Halcyon Lines v. Haenn Ship Corp., 342 U. S. 282, distinguished. Pp. 417 U. S. 110-115.

479 F.2d 1041, affirmed.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which all Members joined except STEWART, J., who took no part in the decision of the case. .





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