27 F.2d 807 (2nd Cir. 1928), 345, Dobson v. United States

Docket Nº:345, 347.
Citation:27 F.2d 807
Case Date:August 20, 1928
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Page 807

27 F.2d 807 (2nd Cir. 1928)








Nos. 345, 347.

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

August 20, 1928

Page 808

Bigham, Englar & Jones, of New York City (T. Catesby Jones, James W. Ryan and W. J. Nunnally, Jr., all of New York City, of counsel), for appellants.

William A. De Groot, U.S. Atty., of Brooklyn (Horace M. Gray, Sp. Asst. U.S. Atty., of New York City, of counsel), for the United States.

Before MANTON, L. HAND, and SWAN, Circuit Judges.

SWAN, Circuit Judge.

The libels were brought under the Act of March 3, 1925 (43 Stat. 1112). Section 1 (46 USCA § 781) provides:

'That a libel in personam in admiralty may be brought against the United States, or a petition impleading the United States, for damages caused by a public vessel of the United States, and for compensation for towage and salvage services, including contract salvage, rendered to a public vessel of the United States: Provided, that the cause of action arose after the 6th day of April, 1920.'

Section 2 (46 USCA § 782) prescribes the venue of suits, and says they shall proceed in accordance with the provisions of the Act of March 9, 1920 (46 USCA §§ 741-752), relating to merchant vessels belonging to the United States, 'in so far as the same are not inconsistent herewith,' with an exception as to the allowance of interest. Section 3 (46 USCA § 783) relates to cross-libels, in the event that the United States is the libelant. Section 4 (46 USCA § 784) forbids the service of subpoena upon an officer or member of the crew of a public vessel of the United States without the consent of the secretary of the department having control of the vessel or of the commanding officer of such vessel. Section 5 (46 USCA § 785) relates to suit by a national of a foreign government. Section 6 (46 USCA § 786) authorizes the Attorney General to settle claims arising under the act. Section 7 (46 USCA § 787) provides for payment of any final judgment. Section 8 (46 USCA § 788) denies the creation of any lien against a public vessel. Section 9 (46 USCA § 789) accords to the United States the benefits of all exemptions and limitations of liability accorded to owners of vessels. And section 10 (46 USCA § 790) directs the Attorney General to report to each session of Congress final judgments and settlements under this act.

This statute, in conjunction with the Act of March 30, 1920 (41 Stat. 537 (46 USCA § 761 et seq.)), creating a cause of action where the death of a person is caused by wrongful act, neglect, or default occurring on the high seas, is said by appellants to justify their libels. Appellee, on the other hand, argues that the statute should be construed as limiting recovery to damages to property and not contemplating compensation for loss of life. We do not find it necessary to determine this question in the present case. The phrase 'damages caused by a public vessel of the...

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