WARNING: THIS IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION.  EACH CASE IS FACT SPECIFIC AND THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION MAY NOT APPLY TO YOUR SITUATION.  THE FOLLOWING IS OFFERED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY.

As we know, fights are bad news.  They can lead to being fired, if nothing else.  But what happens when a fight breaks out and then someone “ups the ante” and pulls a knife or gun?

Fistfights are part of the calling of a seaman.  However, the use of a dangerous weapon, like the knife, is much different.  The use of a deadly weapon makes the vessel unseaworthy.  Pashby v. Universal Dredging Corp, 608 F.2d 1312, 1313-14 (9th Cir. 1979); Claborn v. Star Fish & Oyster Co., 578 F.2d 983, 986 (5th Cir. 1978)(finding the attack with a deadly weapon established unseaworthiness as a matter of law).

This reasoning is followed in Washington State Court, too:


This [absolute] warranty of seaworthiness may be breached if a shipowner employs a seaman with a violent disposition.  Boudoin v. Likes Bros. S.S. Co., [348 U.S. 336, 339, 75 S.Ct. 382, 99 L.Ed. 354, amended, 350 U.S. 811, 76 S.Ct. 38, 100 L.Ed. 727 (1955)].  A seaman’s conduct is not measured by the same standard as the conduct of ordinary men ashore.  Instead, a seaman must be “equal in disposition and seamanship to the ordinary men in the calling.”  Kirsh v. United States, 450 F.2d 326, 327 (9th Cir. 1971)(quoting Stechcon v. United States, 439 F.2d 792, 793 (9th Cir. 1971)).  Proof of a seaman’s violent disposition may be established by either an assault with a deadly weapon, or ….

Snow v. Whitney Fidalgo Seafoods, Inc., 38 Wn.App. 220, 233, 686 P.2d 1090, 1092-93 (Div. 1, 1984) pet. for review denied 103 Wn.2d 1007 (1984) (emphasis added).

So, if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a fight what working as a seaman and one party uses a deadly weapon, you may have a claim for damages under the warranty of seaworthiness.

    If you think you may have a claim, CONTACT A LAWYER TO DISCUSS WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU.

    Keep in mind all claims have a statute of limitations; that is, a certain amount of time within which the claim must be brought in the proper tribunal or else it is forever barred.  If you think you may have a claim consult with a lawyer about your claim immediatelyDo not delay.


E. Dickman Law Firm is
available by telephone for a free initial telephone consultationCall E. Dickman Law Firm anytime at 206-242-3742 (242-ERIC).  Our office hours are from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Pacific time.  After hours voicemail will answer.  Please leave a message.  Be sure at leave a telephone number we can call you back on, and an experienced attorney will call you back as soon as possible.

This is a free call.  We are happy to talk to you.  There is no fee charged for our initial consultation.  Most often, after just a few minutes talking together we are able to answer your questions and let you know if we are the right people to help you.  

We are also available to answer your questions via email.  Contact us at eric@edickman.com.  Emails are answered as quickly as possible.  Like an initial telephone consultation, there is no fee for us to respond to an initial email.

Many people have questions, but are concerned an employer will punish them for contacting an attorney.  Be assured, we will not notify anyone about your inquiry, unless you direct us to tell them about it.  So, please feel free to contact us with your questions.

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Last updated: January 14, 2013