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Ira S. Bushey & Sons, Inc. v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
398 F.2d 167 (1968)


A U.S. Coast Guard ship was being overhauled on a floating drydock. The U.S. Government (Government) (defendant) had a contract with the drydock owner Bushey (plaintiff) which stated that Coast Guard personnel would have access to the ship, but that they should not interfere with the work of Bushey’s employees. Access to the ship from the shore required a person to be admitted through a security gate, climb a ladder, and walk along a gangway and check in at a quartermaster’s shack. One night an inebriated Coast Guard seaman, returning from shore leave, was given access to the ship via the drydock by Coast Guard personnel. The seaman turned some wheels on a drydock wall, causing the intake valves to open. This resulted in the ship falling against the drydock wall, causing severe damage to the drydock and ship. Bushey sued the Government for compensation under the doctrine of respondeat superior. The district court decided in favor of Bushey, holding that the seaman was acting within the scope of his employment when he turned the wheels on the drydock.

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