An actor is in “breach” of his duty to exercise reasonable care when his acts or omissions to act fall below the “reasonable man” standard and another or his property is put at an unreasonable risk of harm as a result thereof. There are diverse descriptions of what “breach” consists of, and how its presence or absence can be determined. Respected Judge Learned Hand took his turn in trying to evaluate “breach” in the context of a lawsuit arising from the claimed negligence in having a barge’s “bargee”, the individual with responsibility to attend to the safety of the barge, be away from the barge for an extended time.
UNITED STATES et al. v. CARROLL TOWING CO., Inc., et al.
Circuit Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 1947
L. HAND, Circuit Judge.
These appeals concern the sinking of the barge, ‘Anna C,’ on January 4, 1944, off Pier 51, North River. The Conners Marine Co., Inc., was the owner of the barge, which the Pennsylvania Railroad Company had chartered; the Grace Line, Inc., was the charterer of the tug, ‘Carroll,’ of which the Carroll Towing Co., Inc., was the owner. The decree in the limitation proceeding held the Carroll Company liable to the United States for the loss of the barge’s cargo of flour, and to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, for expenses in salving the cargo and barge; and it held the Carroll Company also liable to the Conners Company for one half the damage to the barge; these liabilities being all subject to limitation. The decree in the libel suit held the Grace Line primarily liable for the other half of the damage to the barge, and for any part of the first half, not recovered against the Carroll Company because of limitation of liability; it also held the Pennsylvania Railroad secondarily liable for the same amount that the Grace Line was liable. The Carroll Company and the Pennsylvania Railroad Company have filed assignments of error.