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MORT v. WEYERHAEUSER CO.

November 20, 1968

Milton M. MORT, Plaintiff,
v.
WEYERHAEUSER COMPANY, SS C. R. MUSSER, her engines, etc., Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LASKER

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSION OF LAW

 LASKER, District Judge.

 This action, brought by a seaman under the general maritime law to recover for maintenance, transportation, unearned wages, damages resulting from nonpayment thereof, and counsel fees, arising out of employment as an ordinary seaman aboard the defendant's SS C. R. MUSSER, was tried to the court.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 1. Defendant is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Washington, with a principal place of business at Tacoma, and at all times hereinafter mentioned was the owner and operator of the SS C. R. MUSSER.

 2. The SS C. R. MUSSER was a modified Liberty type cargo vessel engaged in defendant's intercoastal service.

 3. Plaintiff is a United States citizen, born on 31 December, 1943, who has received education through the second year of high school.

 4. In 1962, plaintiff became ill with infectious mononucleosis.

 5. A year or a year and a half prior to August 1964, plaintiff first experienced periods of rectal bleeding. In July of 1964, due to a reoccurrence of rectal bleeding, plaintiff made an appointment for a checkup at the General Medical Clinic at the University of California Medical Center. The plaintiff made three visits to the clinic, the first visit on 5 August, 1964. Plaintiff was given an appointment to return to the clinic around the 1st of September, but plaintiff failed to keep this appointment. Plaintiff phoned the clinic and was told by the receptionist that he was in good health and could go to sea. During the time plaintiff was going to the clinic, plaintiff was engaged in carpentry and plumbing work, and he was never told by the doctor at the clinic that he could not work.

 6. On 5 October 1964 plaintiff was assigned to his job as an ordinary seaman on the SS C. R. MUSSER. At this time, plaintiff was twenty years of age, and this was his first experience going to sea.

 7. After being assigned the seaman's job, plaintiff was sent for a physical examination at the SIU-PD & PMA Medical Examination Center in San Francisco. Prior to the physical examination, plaintiff was given a medical questionnaire to fill out. Plaintiff did not fill out the questionnaire accurately. The court notes that plaintiff specifically checked negatively the questions which asked whether he had ever had piles, hemorrhoids, or rectal fistula, or any disease of the bowel or intestinal tract. Plaintiff also failed to answer questions pertaining to his then state of health and as to when he was last attended by a physician or had been hospitalized. The questions which plaintiff omitted followed immediately questions which were described on the questionnaire in bold type to be "For Women Applicants."

 8. At the time plaintiff filled out the questionnaire, plaintiff was free of any of the above mentioned symptoms, felt well, and considered himself fit to undertake employment as a seaman. While plaintiff was seriously negligent in the manner he filled out the questionnaire, the court found him to be a credible witness when he testified that he didn't see the questions which he failed to answer. Because of plaintiff's honest demeanor on the stand, and bearing in mind his youth and inexperience at the time in question, the court finds that when he went on board the SS C. R. MUSSER on October 6, 1964, plaintiff, in good faith, believed that he was fit to perform the duties of a seaman.

 9. After loading lumber on the west coast, the vessel departed from Coos Bay, Oregon, bound for Boston, Massachusetts, via the Panama Canal.

 10. While the vessel was enroute to the Panama Canal, plaintiff became ill, suffering from diarrhea with a reoccurrence of rectal bleeding. Plaintiff also was ...


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