U.S. Supreme Court
Sherlock v. Alling, 93 U.S. 99 (1876)
Sherlock v. Alling
93 U.S. 99
1. Until Congress makes some regulation touching the liabilities of parties for marine torts resulting in death of the persons injured, the statute of Indiana giving a right of action to the personal representatives of the deceased, where his death is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another, applies, the tort being committed within the territorial limits of the state, and, as thus applied, it constitutes no encroachment upon the commercial power of Congress.
2. The action of Congress as to a regulation of commerce, or the liability for its infringement, is exclusive of state authority; but until some action is taken by Congress, the legislation of a state, not directed against commerce or any of its regulations, but relating generally to the rights, duties, and liabilities of citizens, is of obligatory force within its territorial jurisdiction, although it may indirectly and remotely affect the operations of foreign or interstate commerce or persons engaged in such commerce.
3. The Act of March 30, 1852, "to provide for the better security of the lives of chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
passengers on board of vessels propelled in whole or part by steam, and for other purposes," does not exempt the owners and master of a steam vessel, and the vessel, from liability for injuries caused by the negligence of its pilot or engineer, but makes them liable for all damages sustained by a passenger or his baggage, from any neglect to comply with the provisions of the law, no matter where the fault may lie, and, in addition to this remedy, any person injured by the negligence of the pilot or engineer may have his action directly against those officers.
4. The relation between the owner or master and pilot, as that of master and employee, is not changed by the fact that the selection of the pilot is limited to those who have been found by examination to possess the requisite knowledge and skill, and have been licensed by the government inspectors.