594, but stated by way of dictum at page 592 of 122 F.Supp.:
'Libellants say that the Contract between libellants and respondents was violated, in that the voyage was too short in point of time and that libellants were improperly discharged. The only provision in the Contract fixing the length of the time of libellants' employment thereunder is found in the last sentence of the quoted portion of the Shipping Articles. It is said that the term of employment shall not exceed 'six calendar months.' Therefore, libellants were not improperly or wrongfully discharged because discharged within 15 or 20 days after the voyage was begun.'
The Moore decision was also quoted and followed in Lucadou v. United States, D.C.S.D.N.Y.1951, 98 F.Supp. 946, which was recently cited with approval in an alternative holding in Beattie v. American Trading & Production Corp., D.C.S.D.N.Y.1959, 174 F.Supp. 596.
Also, it is significant that § 167 of the British Merchant Shipping Act of 1854, on which the United States statute was based,
has been interpreted as not implying a minimum voyage where the seaman agrees to any period not exceeding a stated maximum. In Tindle v. Davison, 66 L.T. 372 (1892), the court denied recovery under the British Statute where the Articles described the course of the voyage and stated that the 'Term of employment may be for any period not exceeding six months.' The defendant argued (p. 374):
'Sect. 167 of the statute of 1854 only goes to the remedy in the case of improper discharge; it does not extend to introduce a time-maximum of a month into the employment of seamen.'
It is not clear whether the court approved this argument or merely considered the wording of the contract sufficient to overcome any implied, minimum duration. It stated at page 374, 'According to this contract the engagement might last fourteen days, it might last four months; but at the conclusion of the voyage, the contract was at an end.' Libellants can find no comfort in either interpretation of the court's holding as the words in the English Articles 'may be for any period,' which are omitted in the Articles of the case at bar, would seem to be plainly implied in these Articles.
The decisions from the Southern Districts of New York and Texas, while not binding on this court, are entitled to considerable weight. Even though the question presented is sufficiently close so that reasonable jurists could differ, the trial judge feels that a single standard of conduct in this area is important and, since this judge is not persuaded that these decisions are wrong, he will follow them.
The libellants rely primarily upon the history of favored treatment to seamen in the construction of these statutes to support their contentions. See Isbrandtsen Co. v. Johnson, 1952, 343 U.S. 779, 72 S. Ct. 1011, 96 L. Ed. 1294; Aguilar v. Standard Oil Co., 1943, 318 U.S. 724, 63 S. Ct. 930, 87 L. Ed. 1107; Garrett v. Moore-McCormack Co., 1942, 317 U.S. 239, 63 S. Ct. 246, 87 L. Ed. 239; The Steel Trader, 1928, 275 U.S. 388, 48 S. Ct. 162, 72 L. Ed. 326. This court agrees with the policy expressed in these cases but it fails to see how seamen in general will be helped in any significant way by the interpretation urged by the libellants when they admit in their brief (Document No. 12, at page 8) that the ship owners could neutralize its effect by simply inserting a minimum duration provision in all of their Articles. Once again seamen would be prone to the 'economic and social consequences which are inherent in discharge at a distant port when the seaman does not have sufficient funds to adequately sustain life until he secures new employment' (libellants' brief, page 6). The temporary nature of the victory libellants would obtain if this court adopted their position hardly seems to supply the basis for departing from the view subscribed to by two other federal courts and the British court.
On the other hand, the more restricted interpretation of § 594 urged by the respondent does endow seamen with rights which cannot be rendered nugatory by the simple expedient of inserting another sentence into the Articles. It provides liquidated damages wherever there has been a breach and no voyage or a voyage of less than one month's duration.
The fact that the application of § 594 is limited so that it does not apply where there has been a breach and a voyage of greater than one month can be explained when one recognizes that the longer a seaman works, the more savings he will accumulate to provide a cushion to tide him over until he obtains employment again.
In conclusion, it is noted that there are arguments supporting the contentions of both sides with respect to the difficult legal question involved in this dispute. Because other courts have considered the point, however, and are in agreement in refuting libellants' view, this court is constrained to follow them, recognizing, as it does, the importance of uniformity in this area of the law. In doing so, the holdings of these courts need only be given a narrow scope. The Articles in each of these five cases all contain words to the effect that the voyage was to last for a 'term not exceeding' a certain number of months. The courts may well have felt that these words were sufficient to negate any minimum voyage duration implied by § 594.
Thus, the trial judge does not pass on the situation in which the Articles are completely silent as to time or do not use words from which it is fair to infer that any period of time up to the maximum was meant.
Accordingly, judgment will be entered against libellants Joseph A. Zarraga, Martin D. Ladd, and George Martin, and in favor of respondent, The Texas Company.