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GORE v. MARITIME OVERSEAS CORP.

June 1, 1966

Edgar L. GORE
v.
MARITIME OVERSEAS CORPORATION and Ocean Cargo Ships, Inc. Edgar L. GORE v. CLEARWATER SHIPPING CORP. v. MARITIME OVERSEAS CORPORATION and Ocean Cargo Ships, Inc. Edgar L. GORE v. MARINE CARRIERS CORPORATION and Oceanic Petroleum Carriers, Inc. v. MARITIME OVERSEAS CORPORATION and Ocean Cargo Ships, Inc. Edgar L. GORE v. MARINE CARRIERS CORPORATION v. MARITIME OVERSEAS CORPORATION and Ocean Cargo Ships, Inc. Edgar L. GORE v. WATERMAN STEAMSHIP CORPORATION v. MARITIME OVERSEAS CORPORATION and Ocean Cargo Ships, Inc. Edgar L. GORE v. VENORE TRANSPORTATION CO.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: VAN DUSEN

 VAN DUSEN, District Judge.

 These six admiralty actions were consolidated and tried to the court on December 13-15, 1965. Unless otherwise specified, all findings of fact shall be equally applicable to each of the first four captioned causes, as agreed to by the parties (N.T. 258-260). *fn1"

 The libellant in all these actions, Edgar L. Gore (hereinafter "Gore"), was at all times herein relevant a seaman in the United States Merchant Marine (N.T. 235). Respondents in No. 131 of 1962 (who are also the impleaded respondents in Nos. 163 of 1963, 449 of 1963, 279 of 1964 and 39 of 1965), Maritime Overseas Corporation and Ocean Cargo Ships, Inc., are corporations which owned and/or operated the S.S. "Globe Carrier" (N.T. 235). Respondent in No. 163 of 1963, Clearwater Shipping Corporation, is a corporation which owned and operated the S.S. "Midland" (N.T. 235). Respondent in No. 449 of 1963, Oceanic Petroleum Carriers, Inc., is a corporation which owned and operated the S.S. "Elemir" (N.T. 235). Respondent in No. 279 of 1964, Marine Carriers Corporation, is a corporation which owned and operated the S.S. "Commander" (N.T. 237). Respondent in No. 39 of 1965, Waterman Steamship Corporation, is a corporation which owned and operated the S.S. "Colorado" (N.T. 12). Respondent in No. 271 of 1965, Venore Transporation Company, is a corporation which owned and operated the S.S. "Chilore" (N.T. 222). *fn2"

 Since the libellant originally instituted these six actions in order to recover maintenance and cure from his shipowner-employers, it is necessary to set forth in some detail his lengthy medical history. *fn3"

 On August 17, 1954, libellant, while at sea on the S.S. "Republic," slipped and injured his back (p. 32, Dep. of Gore, 2/26/63, filed as Document 34 in 131/1962). On August 23, 1954, he reported to Philadelphia, complaining that since the accident his back had bothered him. On August 26, 1954, he complained of lumbosacral pain, but said that his condition was improving. X-rays were negative for bone or joint pathology. On September 9, 1954, he was much improved and was marked "fit for duty" (p. 1, R.Com-2; *fn4" N.T. 148). Libellant thereafter returned to sea duty.

 In March of 1955, he reported to Philadelphia on eight different occasions for treatment of a cut in his right hand which had become infected (p. 2, R.Com-2) and at no time during this period did he make any complaints about his back (N.T. 148). Libellant was treated for injury to his left elbow in 1955 and for a laceration of the left hand in 1957 (Dep. of Kaplan, filed as Document 30 in 131/1962, p. 11).

 On December 22, 1957, libellant, in the course of his work on a ship, "Poling Bros. No. 9," felt a snap in his back while lifting a 75-pound hose. Pains in his back caused by this accident resulted in libellant seeking medical attention at Philadelphia, which referred him to Baltimore for intensive care for a "right inguinal hernia and lumbosacral strain" (RM-9). Libellant was hospitalized in Baltimore from January 4 to January 23, 1958, and again from February 4 to February 20, 1958, when he was discharged "not fit for duty for one month" (RM-9). During the hospitalization from January 4 to January 23, 1958, there was some radiation of back pain and the back pain was severe enough to merit postponement of the hernia operation (N.T. 114). During the hospitalization from February 4 to February 20, 1958, a right inguinal herniorrhaphy was performed and treatment was given for back complaint (RM-9). Also during this latter hospitalization period there were no significant leg symptoms and no spasm (N.T. 150), and the back showed a normal curve with sensory reflexes in the leg normal. There was no atrophy and straight leg raising was negative (N.T. 151). After recovery from surgery, he again returned to maritime employment.

 On October 3, 1960, libellant reported to Philadelphia that three weeks previously he had had a dull pain in his left lower back which stopped the following day and then appeared in the back of his thigh. A day or so later the pain left his thigh and went to the back of his leg, where it persisted. The ankle was swollen for two days and the calf muscles were weak, and he could not stand on the toes of that foot. Whirlpool baths were given to the extremity and by October 25, 1960, the leg was much better (RM-5; p. 18, Dep. of Kaplan).

 Libellant joined the S.S. "Globe Carrier" on or about December 28, 1961 (p. 3, Dep. of Gore, 2/26/63, Document 34 in 131/1962). On December 30, 1961, the libellant was examined by Dr. George E. Burden in Philadelphia for medical approval of his fitness for sea duty as a crew member on the S.S. "Globe Carrier" (N.T. 172). Dr. Burden fund the libellant physically fit for duty (N.T. 178). The libellant did not disclose his previous medical history concerning his back (N.T. 173). At the time of his physical examination, the libellant thought himself physically fit (p. 4, Dep. of Gore, 2/26/63, Document 34 in 131/1962). The libellant did not tell Dr. Burden of his previous ailments because "they hadn't bothered me for years" (p. 15, Dep. of Gore, 10/19/65, filed as Document 35 in 163/1963). Dr. Burden might have investigated libellant's back condition had he known of it on December 30, 1961 (N.T. 180).

 On January 17, 1962, the S.S. "Globe Carrier" was in a Rotterdam shipyard undergoing repairs (p. 4, Dep. of Gore, 2/26/63, Document 34 in 131/1962). Libellant and other crew members had been assigned to carrying dry stores from back aft to midship in order to enable the shipyard workers to make the necessary repairs (p. 5, Dep. of Gore, 2/26/63, Document 34 in 131/1962; p. 17, Dep. of Kukk, filed as Document 21 in C.A. 31393, admitted in evidence in these cases as N.T. 194). On his first trip in moving stores at about 1600 hours, while carrying two cartons of canned milk weighing approximately 50 pounds, the libellant slipped and fell as he was stepping across the raised sill of the bulkhead doorway. The fall was caused by libellant's slipping on a "log" which he did not see and which was used as a temporary intermediate step inside the doorway around which either sugar or salt was scattered (pp. 4-6, 9-11, 14 and 20, Dep. of Gore, 2/26/63, Document 34 in 131/1962; p. 6 Dep. of Gore, 11/19/65, Document 35 in 163/1963). The sugar or salt was spilled from bags being moved at that time by other members of the crew (pp. 11, 13, 14 and 16, Dep. of Gore, 2/26/63, Document 34 in 131/1962; RM-2-1). After the accident, libellant worked overtime from 6:00 to 7:30 P.M., connecting ballast hoses (RM-2-3). Raul Kukk, Chief Officer of the S.S. "Globe Carrier," gave the order for shifting stores (p. 18, Dep. of Kukk), obtained a signed statement from a witness to the accident, Herbert C. Justice, and then prepared a Report of Personal Injury (pp. 24 & 29, Dep. of Kukk), to which the statement of the witness was attached (RM-2-1).

 On January 18, 1962, the day following the accident, the libellant reported to the Chief Officer that he had tripped on the threshold and injured his left leg (Dep. of Kukk, p. 9). Libellant was sent to the hospital in Rotterdam, where the doctor reported that he had a hematoma of the left leg and requested him to return on January 22, 1962 (RM-2-2). On that date, libellant complained of lower back pain and the doctor recommended two weeks rest (RM-2-4).

 Libellant received out-patient treatment in Philadelphia from February 7, 1962, through April 9, 1962 (RM-10). On February 13, 1962, Dr. Burton Chance, Jr., orthopedic consultant, reported:

 
"On the 18th of January this year this patient fell on board ship and sustained rather severe bruises of the left thigh and calf, and following the fall developed pain in the left sacroiliac area with referred pain down the posterior thigh to the outer calf and foot. This pain is increased on coughing and straining, the ecchymosis has cleared up but he has pain on straight leg raising and he does not have good power in his gastroc.
 
"This man has sciatica, I believe, as a result of his fall. He should be put on rest, physical therapy, vitamin B, and is at present not fit for duty." (RM-10)

 Libellant was hospitalized in Baltimore on April 10, 1962, and was treated for acute low back strain and discharged on April 24, 1962, "not fit for duty for fourteen days" (RM-11). During the period of hospitalization in Baltimore from April 10 to April 24, 1962, there was some limitation of forward flexion, an abnormal lumbo lordotic curve and tenderness over the spinous processes of L5-S1 and the lumbosacral area. Libellant was treated with traction and physical therapy and given medication (RM-11). Libellant was treated in Philadelphia from May 11 to June 12, 1962, when he was permitted to return to work on a trial basis (RM-10). On May 29, 1962, Dr. Chance reported:

 
"This patient continues to have low back pain to the left thigh, groin and calf. He has considerable pain on coughing and sneezing.
 
"I would suggest that he be fitted for a corset and that the corset have a sacroiliac pad added to it and that he continue with his physical therapy." (RM-10)

 On June 12, 1962, libellant was given a fit-for-duty on a trial basis slip and on July 31, 1962, he joined the crew of the S.S. "Midland," on which he worked until August 15, 1962 (p. 6, Dep. of Gore, 10/16/65, ...


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