In an action against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act, claimant sought recovery for cargo damage which resulted from the grounding of the tug and barge carrying the cargo. Claimant alleged that the grounding was caused by the failure of Coast Guard personnel to check and repair a navigational light, or to notify claimant that the light was not operating. A motion to dismiss on the theory that a private person would not be liable under “like circumstances,” as required by the act, was granted by the district court. The court of appeals affirmed. Certiorari was granted and the judgment affirmed by an equally divided court. On rehearing, held: reversed, on the ground that a private person would be liable under “like circumstances.” For example, one undertaking to warn the public of danger and thereby inducing reliance would be liable for a failure to perform his good Samaritan task in a careful manner. The instant case is important not only because it clarifies a previously hazy area but also because the logic of the case could be used to greatly liberalize recovery against the Government.
Charles K. Thompson,
Federal Tort Claims Act—A Liberalized Interpretation,
35 Neb. L. Rev. 509
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