when such a task ordinarily requires additional assistance from other members of the crew.
With regard to Bodden's first contention, it is irrelevant whether the parting of the line constituted an unseaworthy condition or whether Moran was negligent in creating such a condition because Bodden does not claim that his injury was caused by the parting of the line. The gravamen of Bodden's Complaint is that he was injured as a result of the activity of replacing the line. Thus the only effect that the parting of the line had on Bodden was that it resulted in his being assigned that task of replacing that line -- a task that, as Bodden stated in his deposition testimony, was a common occurrence because the lines frequently broke and a supply of extra line was kept on board the Tug to be used in those circumstances.
While the line could have parted for any number of reasons which would have necessitated its replacement, the simple fact that Bodden was told to replace the line neither establishes the unseaworthiness of the Vessel per se nor gives rise to a cause of action by Bodden against Moran. The decision to replace the line did not contribute to the Vessel's seaworthiness, and Moran could have decided to replace it for any of a number of reasons or even for no reason whatsoever and given Bodden the task of replacing it.
While Bodden cites various authorities in support of the proposition that a shipowner has an absolute duty to every seaman employed on board the ship to furnish and maintain a vessel and its appurtenances in a manner that renders them reasonably fit for their intended use, the question of whether the line that parted was unreasonably defective and rendered the Tug unseaworthy need not be reached because the condition and failure of the line is not a proximate cause of Bodden's alleged injury.
This action resolves to the single contention that Bodden was assigned to do a task that required additional crew members to accomplish in a safe and reasonable manner. As a result of this alleged negligence on Moran's part, Bodden contends that the Tug was "momentarily, instantaneously, and transitorily" rendered unseaworthy. Joint Pre-Trial Order at 3.
Moran asserts that this contention necessarily fails because of the apparently inconsistent positions Bodden has taken on this issue in his pleadings and in his deposition testimony. Moran casts Bodden's second contention as the allegation that "he was required to do a two man job by himself," Opp. Aff. at P 10, and asserts that Bodden contradicted this contention by testifying at his deposition that he was assisted by his watch partner in replacing the line.
However, Moran has misstated Bodden's claim. In the Complaint, Bodden asserts that Moran created an unseaworthy condition by, or was negligent in, "running the vessel without an adequate number of crew members." Compl. at IV.6. Bodden makes a similar statement in his answers to Moran's contention interrogatories when he alleges that "the operator of the tug failed to assign a sufficient number of crew member to perform the operation of resecuring the barge to the tug." Answer to Interog. 4.a. Finally, in the Joint Pre-Trial Order, Bodden alleges that he was placed "in a position of an unreasonable risk of harm" when he was directed "to resecure the two vessels without additional assistance from other members of the crew." Joint Pre-Trial Order at 3.
In none of these pleadings does Bodden assert the claim that Moran was negligent in assigning him a two-man job to perform alone. Rather, the claim is that the job that he was assigned to do and did perform was one that required additional assistance than that which actually provided. This claim is consistent with Bodden's deposition testimony regarding the assistance he received from his watch partner in replacing the line. Moreover, Bodden's deposition testimony was that the other deckhand assisted him by paying out the replacement line, not in actually carrying it with Bodden. Thus, it rains a genuine issue of fact whether the carrying of the line itself is a job that reasonably and safely required more than one person to perform under these circumstances.
Because the record on this motion is viewed in light most favorable to Bodden, to wit, all ambiguities and inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts are resolved in his favor and all doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial are resolved against Moran, see Brady, 863 F.2d at 210, a rational trier could find for Bodden, see Binder, 933 F.2d at 191. Therefore, Bodden's claim asserting the negligence of Moran in assigning him the task of replacing the line is sufficient to withstand Moran's motion for summary judgment.
For the reasons set forth above, Moran's Rule 56 motion for an order granting summary judgment against the plaintiff Bodden is denied.
It is so ordered.
New York, N. Y.
June 3, 1993
ROBERT W. SWEET