Maritime Laws

Independent Contractors with Seamen Status

Illustrative of the unbroken line of federal cases holding that persons working on ships for independent contractors or persons rightfully transacting business on ships can recover for damages due to shipowners’ negligence are: Leathers v. Blessing, 1882, 105 U.S. 626, 26 L.Ed. 1192; The Max Morris, 1890, 137 U.S. 1, 11 S.Ct. 29, 34 L.Ed. 586; Gerrity v. The Kate Cann, D.C.1880, 2 F. 241; The Helios, D.C.1882, 12 F. 732, decision by Judge Addison Brown; Grays Harbor Stevedore Co. v. Fountain, 9 Cir., 1925, 5 F.2d 385; Tide Water Associated Oil Co. v. Richardson, 9 Cir., 1948, 169 F.2d 802; Brady v. Roosevelt S.S. Co., 1943, 317 U.S. 575, 577, 63 S.Ct. 425, 426, 87 L.Ed. 471. See also cases collected in 44 A.L.R. 1025–1034.

Craig v. M/V Peacock On Complaint Of Edwards, 760 F.2d 953, 961 (9th Cir.1985) citing Bullis v. Twentieth Century Fox Films Corp., 474 F.2d 392, 394 n. 10 (9th Cir.1973) (wherein the court noted it might be conceivable for an actor, bartender or musician aboard a vessel to qualify for seaman status, where for instance, a cruise ship advertised a Shakespearean festival en route, then the festival actors might be considered seaman since they contribute to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission).  David A. Neblett