Court: 'Super Scoop' is a vessel

Feb. 22, 2005 at 12:24 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday the "Super Scoop" that dug a trench beneath Boston Harbor is a "vessel" for legal purposes.

As part of a project to extend the Massachusetts Turnpike, Dutra Construction Co. used the Super Scoop to dredge the trench. At the time it was the world's largest dredge, digging a 50-foot-deep, 100-foot-wide, three-quarter-mile trench that is now the Ted Williams Tunnel.

A marine engineer was seriously injured when the Super Scoop and one of its scows collided. The injured man sued under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, which authorizes a third party to sue a "vessel" owner.

The lower courts ruled for Dutra.

In a partial victory for the injured man, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Super Scoop is a vessel, even though it has very limited means of propulsion.

An opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas reversed the lower court and ordered a new hearing. Chief Justice William Rehnquist did not take part in the case.

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