United States v. United Continental Tuna Corp.
United States Supreme Court
425 U.S. 164 (1976)
United Continental Tuna Corp. (United) (plaintiff) sued the United States (defendant) after a United States military destroyer collided with one of United’s vessels. United brought suit under the Suits in Admiralty Act, which waived the United States’ immunity for maritime torts involving vessels owned or operated by the United States. The United States moved to dismiss, arguing that the Public Vessels Act allowed a suit by a foreign national only if his or her government would allow a similar suit by a United States national in its courts. The United States argued that United was a Philippines national, the military destroyer was a public vessel, and Philippines courts would not allow a similar suit. The district court ruled in favor of the United States, and United appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, finding that 1960 amendments to the Suits in Admiralty Act erased any distinction between public vessels and merchant vessels owned or operated by the United States. Consequently, the United States had waived immunity in torts involving public vessels. The United States appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Marshall, J.)
Dissent (Stewart, J.)
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