A-13519, APRIL 9, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 814

A-13519: Apr 9, 1926

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AMERICAN - MEDICAL TREATMENT - DISCHARGE WHERE AN AMERICAN SEAMAN IS DISCHARGED FROM THE SERVICE OF HIS SHIP WITH THE CONSENT OF THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS AT MANILA. IS PLACED IN A HOSPITAL BY THE COLLECTOR. THE LIABILITY TO THE HOSPITAL FOR HIS TREATMENT IS ASSUMED BY THE UNITED STATES. IS THAT OF THE SHIPOWNERS OR OPERATORS OF THE VESSEL UPON WHICH THE SEAMAN LAST SERVED. IT IS WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE CONSULAR OFFICER TO REFUSE TO DISCHARGE A DISABLED SEAMAN UNLESS AND UNTIL THE OWNERS OR OPERATORS HAVE ASSUMED THE OBLIGATION FOR HIS CARE AND TREATMENT. IT IS REPORTED THAT THIS SEAMAN WAS REGULARLY DISCHARGED BY THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS OF ILLOILO ON JANUARY 1. THAT SAID SEAMAN WAS SUFFERING FROM ACUTE ARTICULAR RHEUMATISM AND WAS UNABLE TO LEAVE ON THE SHIP WHEN SHE WOULD SAIL FROM SAID PORT.

A-13519, APRIL 9, 1926, 5 COMP. GEN. 814

SEAMEN, AMERICAN - MEDICAL TREATMENT - DISCHARGE WHERE AN AMERICAN SEAMAN IS DISCHARGED FROM THE SERVICE OF HIS SHIP WITH THE CONSENT OF THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS AT MANILA, P.I., WHO ACTS AS CONSULAR OFFICER IN THAT RESPECT, AND IS PLACED IN A HOSPITAL BY THE COLLECTOR, THE LIABILITY TO THE HOSPITAL FOR HIS TREATMENT IS ASSUMED BY THE UNITED STATES. THE PRIMARY DUTY, RESPONSIBILITY, AND LIABILITY FOR THE CARE, MAINTENANCE, AND TRANSPORTATION OF AN AMERICAN SEAMAN, DISCHARGED BEFORE A CONSULAR OFFICER BECAUSE OF INJURY OR DISABILITY INCAPACITATING HIM FOR DUTY, IS THAT OF THE SHIPOWNERS OR OPERATORS OF THE VESSEL UPON WHICH THE SEAMAN LAST SERVED, AND IT IS WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE CONSULAR OFFICER TO REFUSE TO DISCHARGE A DISABLED SEAMAN UNLESS AND UNTIL THE OWNERS OR OPERATORS HAVE ASSUMED THE OBLIGATION FOR HIS CARE AND TREATMENT.

DECISION BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL, APRIL 9, 1926:

REVIEW HAS BEEN REQUESTED OF SETTLEMENT NO. 094843, DATED OCTOBER 29, 1925, DISALLOWING THE CLAIM OF THE UNION MISSION HOSPITAL, MANILA, P.I., FOR THE COST OF MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL SERVICES RENDERED M. R. MICHELSON, A DESTITUTE SEAMAN, FORMERLY A MEMBER OF THE CREW OF THE AMERICAN VESSEL WEST MAHWAH, FROM DECEMBER 31, 1923, TO MARCH 15, 1924.

IT IS REPORTED THAT THIS SEAMAN WAS REGULARLY DISCHARGED BY THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS OF ILLOILO ON JANUARY 1, 1924, ON CERTIFICATE BY DR. C. S. GILCHRIST, ACTING ASSISTANT SURGEON, UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, THAT SAID SEAMAN WAS SUFFERING FROM ACUTE ARTICULAR RHEUMATISM AND WAS UNABLE TO LEAVE ON THE SHIP WHEN SHE WOULD SAIL FROM SAID PORT. UPON BEING DISCHARGED HE WAS COMMITTED BY DOCTOR GILCHRIST, WITH THE CONSENT AND APPROVAL OF THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS OF ILLOILO, TO THE UNION MISSION HOSPITAL OF SAID CITY, WHERE HE REMAINED UNTIL MARCH 15 1924.

THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS IN THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS IS AUTHORIZED TO PERFORM THE FUNCTIONS OF CONSULAR OFFICERS IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES SO FAR AS EXECUTING THE LAWS PERTAINING TO THE RELIEF OF AMERICAN SEAMEN IS CONCERNED. ACT OF JULY 1, 1902, 32 STAT. 711. SEE ALSO 1 COMP. GEN. 384.

IT HAS BEEN HELD REPEATEDLY THAT THE PRIMARY DUTY, RESPONSIBILITY, AND LIABILITY WITH RESPECT TO THE CARE, MAINTENANCE, AND TRANSPORTATION OF AN AMERICAN SEAMAN WHO HAS BEEN DISCHARGED BEFORE A CONSULAR OFFICER BECAUSE OF INJURY OR DISABILITY INCAPACITATING HIM FOR DUTY, IS THAT OF THE SHIPOWNERS OR OPERATORS OF THE VESSEL UPON WHICH THE SEAMAN LAST SERVED, AND THAT THE PRACTICAL EFFECT OF THE DISCHARGE OF THE SEAMAN IN SUCH CASES IS TO RELIEVE THE OWNERS OR OPERATORS OF THE VESSEL OF THE LIABILITY FOR FUTURE WAGES ONLY AND DOES NOT SHIFT THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CARE, MAINTENANCE, AND TRANSPORTATION TO THE UNITED STATES. WHERE, THEREFORE, AMERICAN SEAMEN WHO BECOME ILL OR ARE INJURED WHILE MEMBERS OF THE CREW OF A VESSEL ARE PLACED IN A HOSPITAL BY THE MASTER OF THE CREW OF A VESSEL ARE PLACED IN A HOSPITAL BY THE MASTER OF THE VESSEL, EITHER BEFORE OR AFTER DISCHARGE, THE EXPENSE OF THEIR TREATMENT IS NOT PAYABLE FROM PUBLIC FUNDS. 2 COMP. GEN. 438; ID. 571; 4 ID. 247; 5 ID. 623.

IN THE PRESENT CASE, HOWEVER, THE SEAMAN AT THE TIME OF DISCHARGE WAS PLACED IN THE HOSPITAL, NOT BY THE MASTER OF THE VESSEL, BUT BY AN OFFICER OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, WITH THE CONSENT AND APPROVAL OF THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS, WHO IS AUTHORIZED BY LAW TO ACT FOR THE UNITED STATES IN SUCH CASES. WHILE IT WOULD APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN IN THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS IN THIS INSTANCE TO HAVE REFUSED TO PERMIT THE DISCHARGE OF THE SEAMAN UNTIL THE MASTER OF THE VESSEL HAD PLACED HIM IN A HOSPITAL AND ASSUMED THE OBLIGATION FOR HIS CARE AND TREATMENT--- AND IT IS STATED THAT THE COLLECTORS OF CUSTOMS AT THE VARIOUS PORTS OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS HAVE SINCE BEEN INSTRUCTED NOT TO AUTHORIZE THE SEAMAN'S DISCHARGE UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES AS WERE HERE PRESENTED--- THE FACT REMAINS THAT THE SEAMAN WAS PLACED IN A HOSPITAL BY OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES ACTING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THEIR AUTHORITY, AND AS BETWEEN THE HOSPITAL AND THE UNITED STATES, THEREFORE, THE LIABILITY FOR THE SEAMAN'S TREATMENT IS THAT OF THE UNITED STATES. COMP. GEN. 248; 16 COMP. DEC. 537.