In this wrongful death claim, the issue is whether the decedent’s own negligence contributed to his death. The plaintiff is the widow of the decedent. The decent worked for Bronx Towing Co. as a deckhand. Bronx Towing had a contract with the City of New York pursuant to which Bronx Towing towed scows for the Department of Sanitation. The accident that resulted in the death of the plaintiff’s husband occurred when defendant Bronx Towing towed two scows from Flushing to a dock at East 91st Street. Upon arrival at the 91st Street dock, there was no city employee there to tie the scows to the dock, so Duffy did so. However, soon after the tugboat captain noticed that one of the scows that was supposed to be tied was drifting. Duffy attempted to jump about 4 feet to the second scow. When he landed on the scow, he slipped on debris that was on the deck and fell in the water. Duffy was crushed in between the two scows. He later died.
Plaintiff filed a claim against the City of New York and Bronx Towing. According to the contract between the City of New York and Bronx Towing, the City was required to supply scowmen to accompany each scow from place to place and who would be responsible for tying the scows. Plaintiff argued that had scowmen been present, then a scowman would have tied the scow, and the accident that resulted in her husband’s death would not have occurred. Specifically, the plaintiff claims that Bronx Towing was negligent for failing to provide the decedent with a safe place to work and for taking the scows in tows without scowmen. She claims that the City of New York was negligent for permitting the scows to leave without scowmen and for loading garbage in such a way that the deck became slippery.
Even though the defendants attempted to point the finger at each other, the court concluded that clearly fault lies with both parties. Bronx Towing failed to provide Duffy with a safe workplace, and the City of New York was supposed to supply scowmen. Failure to do so put Duffy in danger as he had to do work that the scowmen were supposed to do.