were engaged in loading cargo onto defendant's ship, the S. S. Santa Clara. Plaintiff was a chisel or forklift truck operator. His job was to carry paper bags of cargo from the south side of the pier to the north side and set them down in an interior doorway which faced hatch # 1 of the Santa Clara. A second forklift operator picked up the bags and set them on pallets. Other wharf men hooked spreader bars onto the pallets, which were then lifted into the hatch.
Plaintiff's activities were interrupted on the morning of the accident when he was told by a fellow longshoreman that "the boss said catch a draft of plywood which was coming out number 2 hatch." (Plaintiff's deposition, p. 13) Plaintiff's "boss" was Albert Williams, in whose gang plaintiff was a registered wharf man. The plywood being lowered from hatch # 2 was to be reloaded into hatch # 1. It consisted of a bundle of 12 to 14 sheets, stacked, secured to the lifting gear of the ship by a rope sling, which in turn was suspended from the ship's cargo hook.
The plywood draft was lowered onto the forks of plaintiff's truck at hatch # 2 and the rope sling was unhooked from the cargo hook at that hatch. Plaintiff then drove his forklift towards hatch # 1, coming to a stop inside the pier doorway facing the hatch, underneath the head of the inshore boom. Other longshoremen came forward and hooked the rope sling of the plywood draft onto the hatch # 1 cargo hook for lifting. At this point the lifting gear at hatch # 1 included a set of spreader bars, which the wharf men previously had been using to load the paper bags of cargo. Instead of detaching the spreader bars from the lifting gear, the longshoremen simply placed the spreader bars loosely on top of the plywood and gave the signal to lift. The draft rose quickly, and the spreader bars fell off the plywood, and, still hanging from the lifting gear, swung back and caught in the forks of plaintiff's vehicle, dragging it forward toward the edge of the pier. Plaintiff, believing that he and his forklift were about to be pitched into the river, struggled to jump out of the truck. In the process he twisted his right leg and fell off the forklift, onto the pier, on his left side. The lift was halted; the forklift came to a stop with its forks and front wheels extending beyond the pier. All this happened in a matter of seconds. Shortly thereafter, other longshoremen or a supervisor employed by the stevedore company disentangled the spreader bars, and the forklift was hoisted up and back to the inside doorway of the pier.
There is no dispute concerning the facts surrounding this accident. On what basis could the shipowner be liable for negligence? The Complaint contains no specific allegations of negligence, and plaintiff's deposition does nothing to clarify the role, if any, which the ship or its crew played in the event. The only persons named by the plaintiff as having supervised or worked with him on the pier or on board the vessel as deck men, hatch tenders, or winch operators were fellow longshoremen (Plaintiff's deposition, pp. 13-14, 16-17, 29-31, 39-40):
"Q Did any of the ship's crew members or any employees of Prudential Grace Line, as far as you know, tell you or the other longshoremen what to do or how to do it in the course of your work that day?