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HELLENIC LINES LTD. ET AL. v. RHODITIS

decided: June 8, 1970.

HELLENIC LINES LTD. ET AL
v.
RHODITIS



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT.

Burger, Black, Douglas, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, Marshall, Blackmun

Author: Douglas

[ 398 U.S. Page 307]

 MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a suit under the Jones Act*fn1 by a seaman who was injured aboard the ship Hellenic Hero in the Port of New Orleans. The District Court, sitting without a jury, rendered judgment for the seaman, 273 F.Supp. 248. The Court of Appeals affirmed, 412 F.2d 919. The case is here on petition for a writ of certiorari which we granted, 396 U.S. 1000, in light of the conflict between the decision below and Tsakonites v. Transpacific Carriers Corp., 368 F.2d 426, in the Second Circuit.

Petitioner*fn2 Hellenic Lines Ltd. is a Greek corporation that has its largest office in New York and another office in New Orleans. More than 95% of its stock*fn3 is owned by a United States domiciliary who is a Greek citizen -- Pericles G. Callimanopoulos (whom we call Pericles). He lives in Connecticut and manages the corporation out of New York. He has lived in this country

[ 398 U.S. Page 308]

     since 1945. The ship Hellenic Hero is engaged in regularly scheduled runs between various ports of the United States and the Middle East, Pakistan, and India. The District Court found that its entire income is from cargo either originating or terminating in the United States.

Respondent, the seaman, signed on in Greece, and he is a Greek citizen. His contract of employment provides that Greek law and a Greek collective-bargaining agreement apply between the employer and the seaman and that all claims arising out of the employment contract are to be adjudicated by a Greek court. And it seems to be conceded that respondent could obtain relief through Greek courts, if he desired.

The Jones Act speaks only of "the defendant employer" without any qualifications. In Lauritzen v. Larsen, 345 U.S. 571, however, we listed seven factors to be considered in determining whether a particular shipowner should be held to be an "employer" for Jones Act purposes:

(1) the place of the wrongful act; (2) the law of the flag; (3) the allegiance or domicile of the injured seaman; (4) allegiance of the defendant shipowner; (5) the place where the contract of employment was made; (6) the inaccessibility of a foreign forum; and (7) the law of the forum.

Of these seven factors it is urged that four are in favor of the shipowner and against jurisdiction: the ship's flag is Greek; the injured seaman is Greek; the employment contract is Greek; and there is a foreign forum available to the injured seaman.

The Lauritzen test, however, is not a mechanical one. 345 U.S., at 582. We indicated that the flag that a ship flies may, at times, alone be sufficient. Id., at 585-586.

[ 398 U.S. Page 309]

     The significance of one or more factors must be considered in light of the national interest served by the assertion of Jones Act jurisdiction.*fn4 Moreover, the list of seven factors in Lauritzen was not intended as exhaustive. As held in Pavlou v. Ocean Traders Marine Corp., 211 F.Supp. 320, 325, and approved by the Court of Appeals in the present case, 412 F.2d, at 923 n. 7, the shipowner's base of operations ...


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