Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

CANADIAN TRANSP. CO. v. UNITED STATES

April 26, 1977

CANADIAN TRANSPORT COMPANY and BOCIMAR, N.V., Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: PRATT

 This is a proceeding in which the plaintiffs seek damages for alleged losses incurred when the United States temporarily excluded a vessel from the port of Norfolk, Virginia. The matters now before the Court are the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. The following are undisputed facts.

 The vessel TROPWAVE was owned by a Swiss corporation, chartered by the plaintiff Canadian Transport Company, a Canadian corporation, and subchartered by the plaintiff Bocimar, N.V., a Belgian corporation. Its master and officers were Polish nationals. Its crew was composed of nationals of countries other than Poland. It was registered in and flew the flag of Singapore.

 On or about April 9, 1974, Bocimar subchartered the TROPWAVE to Altos Hornos De Vizcaya, S.A., coal receivers in Spain. The charter party for that transaction provided that the TROPWAVE would load coal at Hampton Roads (Norfolk). The TROPWAVE departed Rotterdam for Norfolk on April 12, 1974. On or about April 19, 1974, the United States Coast Guard denied permission for the TROPWAVE to enter the port of Norfolk. The denial was made pursuant to the Special Interest Vessel program because the master and officers of the TROPWAVE were Polish nationals. The Special Interest Vessel program is a national security program affecting the national defense of the United States. At the time of the incidents related here, its details were classified; there were no published criteria that would have enabled the owners or charterers of the TROPWAVE to determine that the vessel would be denied entry to Norfolk. *fn1" Upon being denied entry to Norfolk, the TROPWAVE proceeded to Baltimore, where it replaced the Polish master and officers with officials under whom it would be permitted to enter the port of Norfolk. It then sailed for Norfolk, where it loaded coal, and then sailed back to Baltimore, where it dropped off the substitute officers and picked up the Polish officers, before sailing for Spain.

 I. Plaintiffs' First Claim.

 The plaintiffs allege that they bring their first cause of action under the Suits in Admiralty Act, 46 U.S.C. §§ 741-52. It is not clear what cause of action the plaintiffs are asserting. In their complaint and memorandum supporting their motion for summary judgment, plaintiffs assert they are entitled to monetary relief for the "arbitrary and capricious" actions of the defendant, including its violation of the Federal Register Act, 44 U.S.C. §§ 1501-11, leading the Court to believe this is a claim for judicial review of federal agency action under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-06. In their opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment, however, plaintiffs characterize their first claim as one for tortious interference with contract rights, which is entirely separate and distinct from the claim for judicial review of federal agency action.

 If this is a claim, as alleged in the complaint, for judicial review of federal agency action, it does not state a cause of action upon which monetary relief can be granted. *fn2" The statute defining the scope of our review, 5 U.S.C. § 706, contains specific remedies for unlawful agency action. It provides that the reviewing court may compel or set aside agency action. Both are equitable remedies. It makes no mention of monetary relief. Because of the statutory scheme envisioning equitable relief only, we follow the lead of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington and hold that monetary relief is not available for unlawful agency action challenged under these circumstances under the Administrative Procedure Act. Armstrong & Armstrong, Inc. v. United States, 356 F. Supp. 514, 521 (E.D. Wash. 1973), aff'd, 514 F.2d 402 (9th Cir. 1975).

 On the other hand, if this is a claim for tortious interference with contract rights, it cannot be maintained under the Federal Tort Claims Act for several reasons, including the reason that the Tort Claims Act, in failing to include such claims, does not waive sovereign immunity for claims of interference with contract rights. 28 U.S.C. § 2680(h). Assuming this limitation is not to be read into the Suits in Admiralty Act, see De Bardeleben Marine Corp. v. United States, 451 F.2d 140, 145-47 (5th Cir. 1971), if plaintiffs are to have a cause of action upon which relief can be granted, it must be maintainable under the Suits in Admiralty Act.

 We think plaintiffs' claim is within our admiralty jurisdiction and properly asserted under the Suits in Admiralty Act. See United States v. United Continental Tuna Corp., 425 U.S. 164, 176 n.14, 47 L. Ed. 2d 653, 96 S. Ct. 1319 (1976); Carroll v. Protection Maritime Ins. Co., 512 F.2d 4 (1st Cir. 1975); In re Motor Ship Pacific Carrier, 489 F.2d 152 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 417 U.S. 931, 94 S. Ct. 2643, 41 L. Ed. 2d 235 (1974). It does not necessarily follow, however, that the United States has waived sovereign immunity for this kind of admiralty claim. The Suits in Admiralty Act only waives sovereign immunity in "cases where . . . if a private person or property were involved" a proceeding could be maintained. 46 U.S.C. § 742. This provision was inserted in the statute in 1960. Act of Sept. 13, 1960, Pub. L. No. 86-77, § 3, 74 Stat. 912. The legislative history is not particularly illuminating of its meaning. See S. Rep. No. 1894, 86th Cong., 2d Sess. 5, 11 (1960). The cases construing it are few and far between. E.g., Universe Tankships, Inc. v. United States, 388 F. Supp. 276, 285 (E.D. Pa. 1974), aff'd, 528 F.2d 73 (3d Cir. 1975). See also United States v. United Continental Tuna Corp., 425 U.S. 164, 176 & n.14, 47 L. Ed. 2d 653, 96 S. Ct. 1319 (1976). There is, however, an analogous provision in the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2674. The Court will therefore look to the decisional law under that analogous provision, for it believes the two provisions should be construed in pari materia.

 The decisions under 28 U.S.C. § 2674 of the Federal Tort Claims Act indicate that the Federal Government has only consented to be sued in cases where there is a parallel private liability. If there is no analogous private activity that would give rise to liability, there is no waiver of sovereign immunity. Feres v. United States, 340 U.S. 135, 95 L. Ed. 152, 71 S. Ct. 153 (1950). We think these same principles are applicable to proceedings under the Suits in Admiralty Act. See Universe Tankships, Inc. v. United States, 388 F. Supp. 276, 285 (E.D. Pa. 1974), aff'd, 528 F.2d 73 (3d Cir. 1975).

 In this context, it is important to remember that we are talking only about governmental activity on the "operational level." Governmental activity on the nonoperational or "planning" level is discretionary and is not a subject covered by a waiver of sovereign immunity under either the Federal Tort Claims Act or under the Suits in Admiralty Act. Gercey v. United States, 540 F.2d 536, 539 (1st Cir. 1976).

 We think there is some question as to whether the actions complained of here were the result of decisions made on the operational level or on the nonoperational or "planning" level. We do not, however, find it necessary to reach that question. If the actions complained of resulted from decisions made on the planning level, plaintiffs' claim is barred under the doctrine of sovereign immunity by the exception for discretionary activity. Gercey, supra.

 Likewise, we think sovereign immunity bars plaintiffs' claim if the actions complained of resulted from decisions made on the operational level. In Indian Towing Co. v. United States, 350 U.S. 61, 68, 100 L. Ed. 48, 76 S. Ct. 122 (1955), the Supreme Court wrote that "it is hard to think of any governmental activity on the 'operational level,' our present concern, which is 'uniquely governmental,'" in the sense that it could not be conducted by private parties who would be held liable in tort for their conduct. Nevertheless, we believe the actions complained of here, if they do indeed constitute activity on the operational level, fall within the narrow spectrum of uniquely governmental activity for which the Government has not consented to be sued. These actions were taken in direct furtherance of the Government's sovereign rights to completely exclude foreign vessels from its territory, see United States v. Louisiana, 394 U.S. 11, 22, 22 L. Ed. 2d 44, 89 S. Ct. 773 (1969) (Louisiana Boundary Case), and to protect its security. It is simply inconceivable that a private party would ever be in a position to perform these functions or that the Government would ever ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.