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Exclusive Nature of Remedy in Suits by or Against Government

In attaining a remedy through the application of the Suits in Admiralty Act (SIAA), the parties are barred from any other action by reason of the same subject matter against the agent or employee of the US or of an incorporated agency whose act or omission gave rise to the claim.  This provision does not completely abolish all remedies existing against a private company for torts committed during its operation of government vessels under agency agreements.  The factual issues would include the question whether a private defendant is a fiduciary of the United States.  The SIAA covers all maritime torts of government employees.

In American Global Lines, Inc. v. United States, 645 F. Supp. 783 (S.D.N.Y. 1986), a ship was in the control of the vessel pilot, who was duly licensed by the Coast Guard, when it ran aground and sustained serious structural damage.   Suit was filed by the ship owner for claiming the loss suffered due to the negligence on the part of the Coast Guard in granting the vessel pilot a pilot’s endorsement.  A motion to dismiss the suit for lack of subject matter jurisdiction was filed by the defendant and was granted by the court.  According to the court, the claim was maritime in nature, and had exclusive remedy under the SIAA.

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