A-4262, SEPTEMBER 2, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 247

A-4262: Sep 2, 1924

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THE VESSEL AND HER OWNERS ARE PRIMARILY LIABLE FOR THE COST OF MAINTENANCE AND MEDICAL TREATMENT FURNISHED BY THE HOSPITAL. NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE INJURY WAS THE RESULT OF THE SEAMAN'S OWN FAULT. 1924: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JULY 21. IN WHICH THE CONSUL REPORTS THAT THE LOCAL REPRESENTATIVES OF THE KERR STEAMSHIP LINE HAVE REFUSED TO PAY THE HOSPITAL BILL INCURRED ON BEHALF OF ONE JOHN A. WHO WAS INJURED WHILE A MEMBER OF THE CREW OF THE STEAMSHIP WEST MAHOMET. WAS PLACED IN THE HOSPITAL BY THE MASTER OF THAT VESSEL ON ACCOUNT OF THE INJURY ON APRIL 30. WHEN THE MATTER WAS REPORTED BY THE MASTER TO THE CONSULATE. WAS DISCHARGED BY THAT OFFICE. IT APPEARS THAT THE AGENTS OF THE VESSEL BASE THEIR REFUSAL TO PAY THE HOSPITAL EXPENSES OF THE INJURED SEAMAN UPON THE FACT THAT HIS INJURY WAS THE RESULT OF HIS OWN FAULT AND NOT CAUSED BY HIS SERVICE ON THE VESSEL.

A-4262, SEPTEMBER 2, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 247

MEDICAL TREATMENT OF DESTITUTE AMERICAN SEAMEN WHERE THE MASTER OF A VESSEL PLACES A NUMBER OF HIS CREW, AN AMERICAN SEAMAN WHO HAD BEEN INJURED IN THE SERVICE OF THE SHIP, IN A HOSPITAL IN A FOREIGN PORT FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT, PAYS THE ARREARS OF THE SEAMAN'S WAGES TO A UNITED STATES CONSUL, AND SECURES THE SEAMAN'S DISCHARGE ON ACCOUNT OF INJURY INCAPACITATING HIM FOR SERVICE, THE VESSEL AND HER OWNERS ARE PRIMARILY LIABLE FOR THE COST OF MAINTENANCE AND MEDICAL TREATMENT FURNISHED BY THE HOSPITAL, BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER DISCHARGE, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE INJURY WAS THE RESULT OF THE SEAMAN'S OWN FAULT.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, SEPTEMBER 2, 1924:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JULY 21, 1924, AS FOLLOWS:

THE DEPARTMENT ENCLOSES A COPY OF A DESPATCH, DATED JUNE 19, 1924, FROM THE AMERICAN CONSUL IN CHARGE AT CALCUTTA, INDIA, IN WHICH THE CONSUL REPORTS THAT THE LOCAL REPRESENTATIVES OF THE KERR STEAMSHIP LINE HAVE REFUSED TO PAY THE HOSPITAL BILL INCURRED ON BEHALF OF ONE JOHN A. MORRIS, AN AMERICAN SEAMAN, WHO WAS INJURED WHILE A MEMBER OF THE CREW OF THE STEAMSHIP WEST MAHOMET; WAS PLACED IN THE HOSPITAL BY THE MASTER OF THAT VESSEL ON ACCOUNT OF THE INJURY ON APRIL 30, 1924, AND ON MAY 2, 1924, WHEN THE MATTER WAS REPORTED BY THE MASTER TO THE CONSULATE, WAS DISCHARGED BY THAT OFFICE.

IT APPEARS THAT THE AGENTS OF THE VESSEL BASE THEIR REFUSAL TO PAY THE HOSPITAL EXPENSES OF THE INJURED SEAMAN UPON THE FACT THAT HIS INJURY WAS THE RESULT OF HIS OWN FAULT AND NOT CAUSED BY HIS SERVICE ON THE VESSEL.

IN YOUR DECISION OF JANUARY 16, 1923, CONFIRMED ON MARCH 17, 1923, IT IS STATED THAT IF A SEAMAN BECOMES ILL OR IS INJURED WHILE A MEMBER OF THE CREW OF A VESSEL AND IS PLACED IN A HOSPITAL BY THE MASTER PRIOR TO BEING DISCHARGED BY A CONSULAR OFFICER, BUT IS LATER DISCHARGED BY A CONSUL ON ACCOUNT OF SUCH ILLNESS OR INJURY, THE CONSULAR OFFICER WOULD NOT BE AUTHORIZED TO PAY FROM UNITED STATES FUNDS ANY PART OF THE HOSPITAL EXPENSES INCURRED EITHER AFTER THE DISCHARGE OR PRIOR THERETO.

IN THE PRESENT INSTANCE THE DEPARTMENT WOULD APPRECIATE A STATEMENT FROM YOU WHETHER THE FACT THAT THE SEAMAN APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS INJURY AND THAT NO FAULT LIES WITH THE VESSEL RELIEVES THE VESSEL FROM RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE COST OF HIS HOSPITAL TREATMENT.

ATTENTION IS INVITED TO THE SITUATION WHICH UNFORTUNATELY ARISES IN FOREIGN PORTS WHEN, AS IN THE CASE UNDER DISCUSSION, THE VESSEL REFUSES TO ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY AND PAY THE NECESSARY EXPENSES INCURRED AND WHEN AT THE SAME TIME THE CONSULAR OFFICER IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO EXPEND GOVERNMENT FUNDS FOR THE RELIEF OF THE SEAMAN INVOLVED. THE CONSULAR OFFICER'S RELATIONS WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND HOSPITALS ARE UNFORTUNATELY PREJUDICED THROUGH THE FAILURE OF THE GOVERNMENT TO RENDER ASSISTANCE TO SEAMEN UNDER ITS FLAG, AND INSTANCES MAY CONCEIVABLY ARISE IN WHICH ILL OR INJURED SEAMEN MAY BE REFUSED TREATMENT OR ADMITTANCE INTO PROPER INSTITUTIONS, SINCE THE LATTER MAY NATURALLY BE EXPECTED TO WISH ASSURANCE OF PAYMENT FOR SERVICES RENDERED.

IN THE CASE OF THE CITY OF ALEXANDRIA, 17 FED. REP. 390, QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS, IT WAS DECIDED:

BY THE MARITIME LAW, ANCIENT AND MODERN, A SEAMAN, IN CASE OF ANY ACCIDENT RECEIVED IN THE SERVICE OF THE SHIP, IS ENTITLED TO MEDICAL CARE, NURSING, AND ATTENDANCE, AND TO CURE, SO FAR AS CURE IS POSSIBLE, AT THE EXPENSE OF THE SHIP, AND TO WAGES TO THE END OF THE VOYAGE, AND NO MORE.

WHERE A SEAMAN IS HURT IN THE SERVICE OF THE SHIP, HIS INCHOATE RIGHT TO RECOVER THE EXPENSE OF HIS CURE FROM THE SHIP ACCRUES AT ONCE, AND IS NOT AFFECTED BY HIS SUBSEQUENT DISCHARGE WHILE SICK ASHORE. JANSEN V. THE W. L. WHITE, 25 FED.REP. 503. THAT THE MASTER OF A SHIP AT SEA IS AGENT FOR THE OWNERS AS TO EVERYTHING ABOUT THE CREW, OR THAT THE SEAMEN ARE ENTITLED TO CARE AND CURE IN SICKNESS FROM DISEASE OR INJURY, AT THEIR EXPENSE, WITHIN REASONABLE BOUNDS, IS NOT DISPUTED OR DISPUTABLE. CABRIELSON V. WAYDELL, 67 FED.REP. 342 (P. 344). A SEAMAN IS NOT ALLOWED TO RECOVER AN INDEMNITY FOR THE NEGLIGENCE OF THE MASTER, OR ANY MEMBER OF THE CREW, BUT IS ENTITLED TO MAINTENANCE AND CURE, WHETHER THE INJURIES WERE RECEIVED FROM NEGLIGENCE OR ACCIDENT. THE OSCEOLA, 189 U.S. 158.

IN THE CASE OF MCCARRON V. DOMINION ATLANTIC RAILWAY CO., 134 FED.REP. 762, IT WAS HELD, QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS, THAT:

THE LIABILITY OF A SHIP FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND CURE OF A SEAMAN INJURED IN ITS SERVICE DOES NOT TERMINATE WITH THE VOYAGE, BUT CONTINUES UNTIL THE CURE IS COMPLETED, SO FAR AS EXPENSES NECESSARILY INCURRED FOR THE CURE ARE CONCERNED.

IN THE ALECTOR, 263 FED.REP. 1007, IT WAS HELD THAT SEAMEN ARE ENTITLED TO A REASONABLE ALLOWANCE FOR THEIR MAINTENANCE AND CURE, IF TAKEN ILL WHILE IN THE SHIP'S SERVICE, OR WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME THEREAFTER, ARISING FROM CAUSES INCIDENT TO THEIR EMPLOYMENT; BUT THE RIGHT TO CURE DOES NOT INVOLVE LIABILITY FOR DISEASES ARISING FROM THEIR OWN VICES OR GROSS ACTS OF INDISCRETION. A SEAMAN WHO TOOK SICK BEFORE THE END OF THE VOYAGE AND WAS SENT TO A HOSPITAL IS ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FROM THE OWNERS OF THE SHIP FOR HIS EXPENSES FOR MEDICAL ATTENDANCE WHILE IN THE HOSPITAL AND TO HIS WAGES TO THE END OF THE VOYAGE. 12 COMP. DEC. 213.

IN 2 COMP. GEN. 438, IT WAS HELD, QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS, THAT:

AMERICAN SEAMEN FOUND DESTITUTE WITHIN THE DISTRICT OF ANY CONSULAR OFFICER MAY BE FURNISHED SUBSISTENCE AND TRANSPORTATION TO THE UNITED STATES UNDER SECTION 4577, REVISED STATUTES, IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER DISCHARGED OR WHETHER THEIR DISCHARGES RESULTED FROM THEIR OWN MISCONDUCT.

AMERICAN SEAMEN WHO HAVE NOT BEEN DISCHARGED ARE NOT ENTITLED TO RELIEF FROM UNITED STATES FUNDS UNLESS DESTITUTE.

AMERICAN SEAMEN DISCHARGED BY OR BEFORE A CONSULAR OFFICER ON ACCOUNT OF INJURY OR ILLNESS INCAPACITATING THEM FOR SERVICE MAY BE FURNISHED SUBSISTENCE AND TRANSPORTATION TO THE UNITED STATES, UNDER SECTION 4581, REVISED STATUTES, IRRESPECTIVE OF WHETHER THE ILLNESS OR INJURY RESULTED FROM THEIR OWN MISCONDUCT OR WHETHER THEY HAVE FUNDS OF THEIR OWN SUFFICIENT FOR THEIR IMMEDIATE NEEDS.

CONSULAR OFFICERS ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO PAY FROM UNITED STATES FUNDS ANY PART OF THE HOSPITAL BILL OF AMERICAN SEAMEN WHO BECOME ILL OR ARE INJURED WHILE MEMBERS OF THE CREW OF A VESSEL AND ARE PLACED IN A HOSPITAL BY THE MASTER OF THE VESSEL AND LATER DISCHARGED BY THE CONSUL FOR ILLNESS OR INJURY.

IN VIEW OF THE FACTS PRESENTED THAT JOHN A. MORRIS, AN AMERICAN SEAMAN WAS INJURED WHILE A MEMBER OF THE CREW OF THE S.S. WEST MAHOMET (U.S. SHIPPING BOARD CO.), AND WAS PLACED IN THE PRESIDENCY GENERAL HOSPITAL, CALCUTTA, INDIA, BY CAPT. H. MILDE, MASTER OF THAT VESSEL, WHETHER OR NOT THE INJURY WAS THE RESULT OF THE SEAMAN'S OWN FAULT, THE VESSEL IS PRIMARILY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COST OF HIS HOSPITAL TREATMENT, BOTH BEFORE AND FOR A REASONABLE TIME FOLLOWING THE SEAMAN'S DISCHARGE. 14 COMP. DEC. 570; 15 ID. 348.