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WEST V. UNITED STATES, 361 U. S. 118 (1959)

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U.S. Supreme Court

West v. United States, 361 U.S. 118 (1959)

West v. United States

No. 11

Argued November 12, 1959

Decided December 7, 1959

361 U.S. 118


This is a libel under the Public Vessels Act to recover damages from the United States, as shipowner, for injuries suffered by a shore-based employee of an independent contractor while working on a ship undergoing a complete overhaul at the contractor's repair docks. The ship had been completely deactivated and stored for several years, and the contractor had been employed to overhaul it completely and make it seaworthy before it was reactivated. The ship was under the complete control of the contractor, and the only representatives of the Government aboard were there solely to serve as inspectors.

Held: The United States was not liable. Pp. 361 U. S. 118-124.

1. There could be no express or implied warranty of seaworthiness to any person in the circumstances of this case. Seas Shipping Co. v. Sieracki, 328 U. S. 85, distinguished. Pp. 361 U. S. 120-122.

2. In the circumstances of this case, the shipowner could not be charged with negligence in failing to maintain a safe place to work. Pp. 361 U. S. 122-124.

256 F.2d 671 affirmed.

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