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QUINTIN v. SPRAGUE S.S. CO.

February 25, 1957

Raymond QUINTIN, Libelant,
v.
SPRAGUE STEAMSHIP COMPANY and The Texas Company, Respondents



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCGOHEY

The libelant, a seaman, sues for damages and maintenance and cure on account of tuberculosis alleged to have been contracted and aggravated because of the negligence of Sprague Steamship Company and the unseaworthy condition of its and The Texas Company's vessels on which the libelant was employed.

Quintin's tuberculosis was discovered in July, 1951, while he was employed on The Texas Company's Minnesota. More than two years previous he had shared quarters on the Sprague Steamship Company's P. W. Sprague with one Sisko, from mid-December, 1948 until the end of May, 1949 when Sisko signed off the vessel. Six months later Sisko was found to have tuberculosis 'moderately advanced.' The argument in support of Quintin's claims runs thus. Sisko, while quartered with Quintin, knew or should have known that he was infected and was therefore under a duty to disclose this both to the libelant and the ship's officers so that he could be hospitalized or at least isolated, and thus prevent Quintin's infection. His failure to disclose was negligence of a fellow servant attributable to his employer, Sprague Steamship Company. As a result of this negligence Quintin became infected or, if he already had the disease, his infection was increased. Moreover, the infection was aggravated by the unseaworthiness of the P. W. Sprague in two respects: first, the inadequate ventilation and dampness of the quarters which Quintin and Sisko shared and in which they were required to stay when off watch during long periods at sea, when another member of the P. W. Sprague's crew had spells of violence, in one of which he killed the steward; second, the presence in her crew of a man infected with tuberculosis and a madman. Quintin's condition was further aggravated by unseaworthy, i.e. damp and ill-ventilated, quarters on the Sprague Steamship Company's Plymouth and the Minnesota on which he successively served after signing off the P. W. Sprague.

 The facts found appear in the numbered paragraphs.

 1. Sprague Steamship Co., a Maine corporation, owned, operated, managed and controlled two colliers: the P. W. Sprague, a Liberty ship, built in 1943 and converted to carry bulk cargoes; and the Plymouth, a bulk cargo carrier of the Seam class, constructed in 1945.

 2. The Texas Company, a Delaware corporation, owned, operated, managed and controlled the Minnesota, a tanker of the T-2 class built during World War II.

 3. Quintin is a citizen of the United States and a resident of Fall River, Mass. He was employed as a seaman aboard the P. W. Sprague from October 8, 1948 until July 26, 1949, when he signed off in order to take a vacation ashore. He was then apparently in good health. Subsequently he served on the Plymouth from November 25, 1949 through August 7, 1950, when he again signed off in order to take a vacation ashore. He was then apparently in good health.

 4. Each of these vessels, at the time Quintin joined it, was engaged in coastwise carriage of coal between Newport News, Va. and New England ports. Concededly at those times it was not customary to give pre-employment physical examinations to seamen signing on coastwise vessels, and Quintin was not examined.

 5. Quintin was unmarried and, as far as appears, had no one depending on him for support at the times here material. Judged by his appearance and conduct on the stand, Quintin is quite above the average man of his calling. He is neat, alert and intelligent. His vacations, which he took regularly, were spent either at home in the winter or at vacation resorts in summer. Except during one voyage to Europe on the P. W. Sprague in May, 1949, he was in an American port each week during his service of more than nine months on the P. W. Sprague and eight and a half months on the Plymouth. He was free to sign off whenever the vessel was in port.

 6. His next employment as a seaman was from early September through the end of December, 1950, on the S.S. Federal, which was not owned by either respondent and against which no claim is made here.

 7. Quintin remained ashore from December, 1950 until February 4, 1951, when he signed on the Minnesota after passing a pre-employment physical examination. He continued to serve on her until July 13, 1951 when, while at work, he became ill and coughed up blood. The ship was then at San Pedro, California.

 8. Prior to July 13, 1951, Quintin considered himself to be in good health. He did not complain but, on the contrary, stood his regular watches and worked substantial overtime on each of the vessels on which he served.

 9. He was sent promptly from the Minnesota to the Public Health Service Clinic in San Pedro where X-ray examinations disclosed tubercular infiltration in the upper lobe of the right lung. He was transferred to the Marine Hospital at San Francisco on July 14, 1951. The history he there gave the admitting physician indicated to the latter, who so noted on the hospital record, that Quintin had been symptom-free until four days previously, except for a chronic cough which had been present during the previous two or three years and which Quintin said he believed to be due to smoking cigarettes. He remained at the hospital in San Francisco until September 12, 1951, when he was transferred to the United States Public Health Hospital, Manhattan Beach, N.Y. He remained there until April 29, 1952.

 10. On the latter date he was transferred to the United States Marine Hospital, Stapleton, N.Y., where on June 9, 1952 the upper and middle lobes of the right lung were removed. On June 24, 1952, he underwent a right thoracoplasty.

 11. He was returned to the Manhattan Beach Hospital on August 14, 1952, and remained there until discharged on February 18, 1953. Thereafter he received intermittent out-patient care until mid-September, 1953, when he was found 'fit for duty.'

 12. On October 8, 1953 he signed on the S.S. New York Trader and worked on her until April 6, 1954. He was subsequently employed for a brief period aboard The Texas Company's tanker Connecticut.

 13. From December, 1948 through May, 1949, Quintin shared quarters aboard the P. W. Sprague with two other members of the 4 to 8 watch, named Sisko and DeBartolo.

 14. In 1941 Sisko had married one May Turner, with whom he had been acquainted for about a year. They lived together for only ten days thereafter, when Sisko abandoned her and returned to sea. May Turner had been hospitalized for tuberculosis at the Fall River General Hospital between 1932 and 1936. At the time of her marriage to Sisko in 1941, she was an out-patient, her tuberculosis arrested. Three months later her tuberculosis was found active. She was readmitted to the hospital and was not discharged until 1943.

 15. An X-ray of Sisko's lungs taken in October, 1945 during a pre-employment physical examination by a physician for the War Shipping Administration showed no evidence of tuberculosis.

 16. Mrs. Sisko obtained a divorce in 1942. Early in 1946, during an attemptted reconciliation, she shared the same room with Sisko at his parents' home for two nights. ...


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