The opinion of the court was delivered by: LEIBELL
1. During period from June 11, 1946 to July 31, 1946, libelant was a member of the United States Merchant Marine and was in the employ of the respondent as a member of the crew of the S.S. John La Farge in the capacity of Second Cook and Baker, under foreign articles originating at New York, at the base wage of $ 167.50 per month, plus overtime at 90 cents per hour, and bonuses. Libelant's gross earnings, exclusive of found, during that period amounted to $ 479.48, consisting of $ 284.75 for wages, $ 49.83 for bonuses, and $ 144.90 for overtime.
2. During the aforesaid period, the respondent, United States of America, owned the S.S. John La Farge, which was operated in foreign commerce for the account of the United States of America and the War Shipping Administration, predecessor to the United States Maritime Commission, as a merchant vessel under a general agency agreement.
3. Libelant signed aboard at New York on June 11, 1946. The vessel stopped at Philadelphia, sailing therefrom on June 20, 1946 for Rotterdam, Holland, where she remained from July 4th to July 9th. The vessel then proceeded to Fowey, England, where she remained from July 10th to July 16th before returning to the United States. The crew was paid off on July 31, 1946 at Philadelphia.
4. Some time during the afternoon of June 29th, the chief steward, Albert G. Espeneda, assigned the chief cook, the libelant (the second cook) and the third cook to clean the vegetable storeroom. This was a routine task performed every week or two, but was performed after regular hours and compensated for as overtime. In this sense it was voluntary and if a man did not feel like working, he could refuse it. On this occasion the chief cook declined the work, leaving Soriano and the third cook to proceed alone. While three or four men were usually assigned to do this task, the job could be done by two and two were sufficient.
5. The place where Soriano was required to work at the vegetable box on June 29, 1946, was a safe place in which to work.
6. The vessel was in all respects seaworthy both as to her equipment and appurtenances and as to the crew that manned the vessel.
7. The members of the crew and the officers were competent and performed their respective duties with the care and skill required for their work.
8. The work done by the libelant and the third cook at the vegetable box on June 29, 1946, was work with which they were familiar and they went about their work in the usual way. No officer or superior gave them any instructions as to how they were to do the work and no such instructions were necessary considering the nature of the work they were to perform.
9. Libelant and the third cook proceeded with the assignment to clean the vegetable box. In doing so the third cook, who was working inside the box, brought the various items to the door of the box. Libelant, who was working in the passageway outside the box, took the various items and stacked them in the passageway, preparatory to cleaning out the box.
10. After a sufficient quantity of the contents of the box had been removed, both men went inside and cleaned the box. The libelant alone stacked the fruits and vegetables outside the box in the passageway. While the two men cleaned the box, these boxes and crates remained stacked without incident for over 45 minutes.
11. The cleaning accomplished, Soriano then proceeded to move the boxes and crates of fruits and vegetables and return them to the door of the box, where the third cook took them and replaced them inside the box. Libelant had stacked various items in the passageway so that the sacks of potatoes were piled five sacks high and boxes of apples were piled or stacked on top of them. He had placed on top of the potatoes two boxes of apples, each weighing 40 to 50 pounds, one on top of the other. As he attempted to remove the top box of apples, he dislodged the box beneath it, causing it to fall and strike his knee, shin, and finally his left big toe. After the accident, Soriano was unable to continue with the work, and the third cook finished the job alone.
12. No negligence of any of the officers or crew was a proximate cause of Soriano's accident.
13. The fall of the box of apples on Soriano's left leg and left foot was caused solely by Soriano's own negligence and resulted from the manner in which he stacked the vegetables and fruit in the passageway and the manner in which ...