Court: Gov’t Immune from Contribution in Collision
The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the federal government is immune from a claim of contribution from a vessel owner that alleged negligence on the part of the U.S. Navy in conducting a nighttime training exercise in which a Navy member was killed in a collision with claimant's vessel. The estate of the deceased Navy member filed a wrongful death action against the tug owner. The tug owner sought contribution from the federal government, alleging that the collision between its tug and the rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB) of which the deceased was a crewmember was caused in part by the negligence of the Navy personnel who organized and conducted the training exercise. The court held that the government is not subject to suit by a third party for actions based on the death of a service member. Vulcan Materials (VMC.F) v. Massiah, No. 10-1041 (4th Cir., May 6, 2011).