B-128305, AUG. 7, 1956

B-128305: Aug 7, 1956

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COUNSELORS AT LAW: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 21. WAS ADMITTED TO THE U.S. PEDERSEN WAS ADMITTED TO THE HOSPITAL IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST OF THE SHIPS MANAGEMENT CORPORATION. THE SEAMAN WAS HOSPITALIZED FROM JANUARY 30. THE SHIP'S AGENT WAS BILLED FOR THE SEAMAN'S HOSPITAL CARE ON A REGULAR MONTHLY BASIS IN ACCORDANCE WITH HOSPITAL PROCEDURES. THE UNITED STATES IS NOT BOUND BY THE LAWS OF GREECE WHICH LIMIT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE VESSEL OWNERS WITH RESPECT TO HOSPITALIZATION. WHICH PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS: "WHEN SUITABLE ACCOMMODATIONS ARE AVAILABLE. SUCH VESSEL SHALL BE GRANTED CLEARANCE UNTIL SUCH EXPENSES ARE PAID OR THEIR PAYMENT APPROPRIATELY GUARANTEED TO THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS.'.

B-128305, AUG. 7, 1956

TO ZELBY AND BURSTEIN, COUNSELORS AT LAW:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 21, 1956, CONCERNING THE INDEBTEDNESS TO THE UNITED STATES OF THE SHIPS MANAGEMENT CORPORATION IN THE AMOUNT OF $3,163.50. THE INDEBTEDNESS REPRESENTS HOSPITALIZATION, TREATMENT AND CARE OF FOREIGN SEAMAN, PETTER PEDERSEN, FOR THE PERIOD JULY 1, 1952, TO FEBRUARY 9, 1953, BY THE UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE.

THE RECORD SHOWS THAT FOREIGN SEAMAN PETTER PEDERSEN EMPLOYED ON THE GREEK VESSEL, S.S. ADRIATICA, WAS ADMITTED TO THE U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITAL, MANHATTAN BEACH, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, ON JANUARY 30, 1952, BECAUSE OF ILLNESS. MR. PEDERSEN WAS ADMITTED TO THE HOSPITAL IN RESPONSE TO A REQUEST OF THE SHIPS MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, 80 BROAD STREET, NEW YORK 4, NEW YORK, AGENTS FOR THE S.S. ADRIATICA. THE SEAMAN WAS HOSPITALIZED FROM JANUARY 30, 1952, THROUGH FEBRUARY 9, 1953. THE SHIP'S AGENT WAS BILLED FOR THE SEAMAN'S HOSPITAL CARE ON A REGULAR MONTHLY BASIS IN ACCORDANCE WITH HOSPITAL PROCEDURES. THE SHIP'S AGENT PAID THE BILLS FOR THE MONTH OF JANUARY THROUGH JUNE 1952. UNDER DATE OF JULY 14, 1952, THE SHIP'S AGENT ADVISED THE UNITED STATES PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE HOSPITAL THAT ITS PAYMENT FOR THE MONTH OF JUNE 1952, WOULD CONSTITUTE ITS LAST PAYMENT FOR SUCH HOSPITAL EXPENSES AND THAT IT WOULD NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ADDITIONAL BILLS IN CONNECTION WITH THE SEAMAN. IN SUPPORT OF THE TERMINATION OF LIABILITY, THE SHIP'S AGENT MAKES REFERENCE TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE GREEK LAW.

THE UNITED STATES IS NOT BOUND BY THE LAWS OF GREECE WHICH LIMIT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE VESSEL OWNERS WITH RESPECT TO HOSPITALIZATION. THE STATUTE CONTROLLING IN THE INSTANT CASE IN SECTION 322 (B) OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ACT, JULY 1, 1944, 58 STAT. 696, WHICH PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"WHEN SUITABLE ACCOMMODATIONS ARE AVAILABLE, SEAMEN ON FOREIGN-FLAG VESSELS MAY BE GIVEN MEDICAL, SURGICAL, AND DENTAL TREATMENT AND HOSPITALIZATION ON APPLICATION OF THE MASTER, OWNER, OR AGENT OF THE VESSEL AT HOSPITALS AND OTHER STATIONS OF THE SERVICE AT RATES FIXED BY REGULATIONS. ALL EXPENSES CONNECTED WITH SUCH TREATMENT, INCLUDING BURIAL IN THE EVENT OF DEATH, SHALL BE PAID BY SUCH MASTER, OWNER, OR AGENT. SUCH VESSEL SHALL BE GRANTED CLEARANCE UNTIL SUCH EXPENSES ARE PAID OR THEIR PAYMENT APPROPRIATELY GUARANTEED TO THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS.'

IT APPEARS TO BE YOUR CONTENTION THAT MR. PEDERSEN HAD TERMINATED HIS SERVICES WITH THE VESSEL AND WAS NOT A SEAMAN EMPLOYED ON A FOREIGN VESSEL AT THE TIME OF HIS HOSPITALIZATION AND THAT THE SEAMAN MUST PROVE THAT THE AILMENT OR INJURY WAS SUSTAINED ON OR PRODUCED BY REASON OF HIS CONNECTION WITH THE VESSEL. IN THAT REGARD THE RECORD SHOWS THAT HE WAS HOSPITALIZED AT THE REQUEST OF THE SHIPS MANAGEMENT CORPORATION, AGENTS FOR THE S.S. ADRIATICA, AND THE HOSPITAL BILLS WERE VOLUNTARILY PAID BY THE SHIP'S AGENTS FOR THE FIRST SIX MONTHS WHICH SHOWS THEY CONSIDERED THEMSELVES RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CARE OF THE SEAMAN. IT REASONABLY APPEARS THAT THE REQUEST FOR HOSPITALIZATION AND THE ASSUMPTION OF SUCH AN OBLIGATION ON THE PART OF THE SHIPS AGENTS WAS IN RECOGNITION OF THE FACT THAT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE SEAMAN AND THE OWNER OF THE VESSEL HAD NOT TERMINATED AT THE TIME HE WAS HOSPITALIZED.

REGARDING YOUR SECOND CONTENTION THAT THE SEAMAN MUST PROVE THAT THE AILMENT OR INJURY WAS SUSTAINED ON OR PRODUCED BY REASON OF HIS CONNECTION WITH THE VESSEL IT HAS BEEN HELD THAT IF A SEAMAN FALLS SICK WHILE IN SERVICE, THE SHIPOWNER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MAINTENANCE AND CURE, EVEN THOUGH THE GERMS OF THE DISEASE WERE IN HIS SYSTEM WHEN HE JOINED THE SHIP, THE ILLNESS NEED NOT BE CAUSED BY HIS SERVICE. REY V. COLONIAL NAVIGATION CO., 116 F.2D 580, PAGE 583; CALMER S.S. CORP. V. TAYLOR, 303 U.S. 525, 58 S.CT. 651, 82 L.ED. 993; LINDGREN V. SHEPARD S.S. CO., 108 F.2D 806.

ACCORDINGLY, SINCE THE MASTER OR OWNER OF THE SHIP IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE HOSPITAL EXPENSES UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE ABOVE QUOTED PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE ACT, IT IS REQUESTED THAT THE SHIPS MANAGEMENT CORPORATION BE ADVISED TO LIQUIDATE ITS INDEBTEDNESS TO THE UNITED STATES WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY IN ORDER TO AVOID THE NECESSITY OF INSTITUTING FORMAL COLLECTION PROCEEDINGS. PAYMENT MAY BE MADE IN THE FORM OF A BANK DRAFT, CHECK OR POSTAL MONEY ORDER MADE PAYABLE TO ,U.S. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE" AND FORWARDED TO THE CLAIMS DIVISION, UNITED STATES GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, POST OFFICE BOX 2610, WASHINGTON 13, D.C., REFERRING TO CLAIM NO. DB-Z 246225 (A).