Canadian Aviator, Ltd. v. United States,
324 U.S. 215 (1945)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Canadian Aviator, Ltd. v. United States, 324 U.S. 215 (1945)

Canadian Aviator, Limited v. United States

No. 279

Argued January 5, 1945

Decided February 26, 1945

324 U.S. 215


The Public Vessels Act provides that "a libel in personam in admiralty may be brought against the United States . . . for damages caused by a public vessel of the United States . . ."


1. The remedy afforded by the Act is not confined to cases where the public vessel is the "physical instrument" by which the "physical damage" is done. P. 324 U. S. 222.

2. Damage "caused by a public vessel" embraces damage resulting from negligence of personnel in the operation of the vessel. P. 324 U. S. 224.

3. The Osceola, 189 U. S. 158; The Vera Cruz, No. 2, 9 L.R., Prob.Div. 96 [1884]; Dobson v. United States, 27 F.2d 807, and O'Neal v. United States, 11 F.2d 869, distinguished. P. 324 U. S. 225.

4. The Act authorizes the courts to apply principles of in rem, as well as in personam, liability in admiralty, even though it denies a maritime lien, which is in accord with the broad purpose of the Act as evidenced in its legislative history. P. 324 U. S. 227.

5. A complaint alleging that, while following directly astern of a public vessel as ordered by Naval authorities, complainant's vessel was damaged when it struck a submerged wreck, and that the accident resulted solely from the negligence of the public vessel and its crew, stated a cause of action under the Act. P. 324 U. S. 228.

142 F.2d 709 reversed.

Certiorari, 323 U.S. 688, to review a judgment affirming the dismissal of a libel, 52 F.Supp. 211, under the Public Vessels Act.

Page 324 U. S. 216

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