The opinion of the court was delivered by: KRAFT
In the initial action for personal injuries to the plaintiff, a longshoreman, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $30,000. In the third-party indemnity action, the jury found in favor of the third-party defendant.
After the entry of appropriate judgments on the verdicts the third-party plaintiff filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or alternatively, for a new trial in its third-party actions against the stevedore.
At the outset, we observe that the third-party plaintiff neglected upon the trial to move for a directed verdict under F.R.Civ.P. 50(a). This omission precludes us from granting judgment notwithstanding the verdict under F.R.C.P. 50(b). Massaro v. United States Lines Co., 307 F.2d 299 (3 Cir. 1962); Brandon v. Yale & Towne Mfg. Co., 220 F. Supp. 855 (E.D.Pa.1963) aff'd per curiam 342 F.2d 519 (3 Cir. 1965).
We direct our attention next to the motion for new trial. Bales of cotton waste, which measured approximately 4 1/2 to 5 feet in length, 18 inches in width and 2 to 2 1/2 feet in height, and which weighed from 360 to 500 pounds, were being discharged from the vessel. The bales were wrapped in burlap and bound with eight to ten steel bands. The ends of the bales were rectangular in shape and were not covered with burlap.
The bales, loaded in India, were stowed on their sides in three tiers in the after end of the lower hold. They were stowed in an interlocking manner so that the bottom tier was placed lengthwise athwartship, the middle tier lengthwise, fore and aft, and the top tier, lengthwise athwartship. On the tweendeck, just above the lower hold, a cargo of cashew nuts was stowed.
No dunnage, chocking or supports had been inserted between the bales when the vessel left India. Part of the baled cargo was discharged in New York prior to the ship's arrival in Philadelphia.
When the longshoremen entered the lower hold, they immediately noticed that the bales had shifted, with the top tier overhanging the middle tier by approximately 4 to 5 inches, with open spaces between bales. The plaintiff, McKinley, and other members of the gang assigned to unload the bales, informed their foreman, Murray, of this condition promptly after they entered the lower hold. Murray advised the men to "Be careful * * *." "Be particular." "Do the best you can at it." The evidence fairly discloses that Murray thought the condition of the baled cargo hazardous, but he did not discontinue the unloading or inform the ship superintendent, because he did not think that the condition was "extremely unsafe."
Thereafter, McKinley and his partner, who were working the inshore side of the hold commenced to unload the bales. Two other men, the Goldsmith brothers, were working closely in the same area, near a partition which divided the after end of the lower hold.
The longshoremen first removed those top bales which overhung the middle tier, then began to discharge the middle tier. The bottom tier was left intact to shorten the distance of fall of the bales to be toppled from the top tier. Rope slings were placed on the bottom tier on to which the bales were toppled or rolled from the upper tiers, six to a draft. The entire top tier was not removed before the men started work on the middle tier. The procedure, thus employed, was to "step down" the upper two tiers to the bottom tier.
After five drafts had been discharged, McKinley was loading his sling with the sixth draft, with his back to the stow, when he heard someone (Goldsmith) shout, "Look Out." McKinley jumped up and was struck on the leg by a falling bale.
There is no credible evidence in the record which indicated from what location in the stow the bale fell, but there was sufficient evidence to permit the jury to conclude that the bale simply slid or fell free from the top tier, because of the loose or shifted condition of the cargo.
Generally stated, the plaintiff's claims for unseaworthiness and negligence were based upon the ship's failure: (1) properly to stow and secure the cargo with dunnage, chocking and supports; (2) to provide the plaintiff with a reasonably safe place to work; and (3) the stevedore's non-compliance with the Safety and Health Regulations for Longshoring ...