In the recent case of The State of Maryland, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals of the Fourth Circuit held that a seaman could recover indemnity against a vessel in an in rem proceeding in admiralty, for burns received when oil-burning equipment of the vessel exploded. The explosion occurred while the libellant was attempting to light the oil burner in the pit furnace beneath the boilers without having first opened the lower draft. It was a part of the libellant's duties to light the oil burner. He was inexperienced, and no one had instructed him as to the proper method to follow in lighting the furnace, nor as to the danger involved. The court ruled that the owner of the steamship was under a duty to instruct the seaman as to the nature of his duties and to warn him against the dangers to be encountered. The opinion stated that this duty to instruct and warn the seaman is based upon the same principle as that which makes the owners and the vessel liable to seamen for damages arising out of the unseaworthiness of the vessel or the failure to furnish proper appliances.
James H. Roberton,
ADMIRALTY - RIGHT OF SEAMEN TO INDEMNITY - DUTY OF SHIPOWNER TO WARN AND INSTRUCT INEXPERIENCED SEAMEN,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol35/iss5/5