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JOHANSEN V. UNITED STATES, 343 U. S. 427 (1952)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Johansen v. United States, 343 U.S. 427 (1952)

Johansen v. United States

Argued March 4, 1952

Decided May 26, 1952*

343 U.S. 427


In the case of a civilian employee of the United States who was a member of the crew of a "public vessel" (not a "merchant vessel") of the United States and who, through negligence of the United States or unseaworthiness of the vessel, suffered injury or death in the performance of his duty, the benefits available under the Federal Employees Compensation Act of 1916 are exclusive, and a suit against the United States for damages under the Public Vessels Act is precluded. Pp. 343 U. S. 428-441.

1. Although Congress did not specifically exclude such a claimant from the coverage of the Public Vessels Act, that Act must be fitted, as fairly as possible, into the entire statutory system of remedies against the Government to make a workable, consistent, and equitable whole. Pp. 343 U. S. 431-434.

2. A different result is not required by the 1949 amendments to the Federal Employees Compensation Act. Pp. 343 U. S. 431-111.

3. United States v. Marine, 155 F.2d 456, and Johnson v. United States, 186 F.2d 120, disapproved. P. 343 U. S. 439.

4. To allow public vessel seamen an election of remedies which is denied to civilian seamen employed through the War Shipping Administration, 50 U.S.C.App. § 1291, would contribute neither to uniformity nor to fairness. Pp. 343 U. S. 440-441.

5. As the Government has created a comprehensive system to award payments for injuries, it should not be held to have made exceptions to that system without specific legislation to that effect. P. 343 U. S. 441.

191 F.2d 162, 164, affirmed.

In No. 401, a libel in admiralty against the United States under the Public Vessels Act was dismissed by the District Court. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 191 chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 343 U. S. 428

F.2d 162. This Court granted certiorari. 342 U.S. 901. Affirmed, p. 343 U. S. 441.

In No. 414, the District Court overruled the Government's motion to dismiss petitioner's suit for damages. The Court of Appeals reversed. 191 F.2d 164. This Court granted certiorari. 342 U.S. 901. Affirmed, p. 343 U. S. 441.

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