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Zittrain Torts Playlist Spring 2013

Ira S. Bushey & Sons, INC., Plaintiff-Appellee, v. United States of America, Defendant-Appellant.

Headnote

While drunk, a member of the United States Coast Guard opened the valves of plaintiff’s drydock, causing parts of it to sink. The seaman was at the drydock because he was returning to his ship to sleep. The operation of the drydock’s valves had nothing to do with his duties as a seaman. Plaintiff sued the United States government for the damage to the drydock. Can employers be liable for their employees’ random acts of drunkenness? Should an employer have broad liability for their employee’s destructive behavior, if it is “foreseeable” that their labor force will cause property damage from time to time? The court wrestles with these questions in this case.