Smith v. United States, 507 U.S. 197, 11 (1993)

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Cite as: 507 U. S. 197 (1993)

Stevens, J., dissenting

eign immunity in 2674.6 Neither of these sections identifies any territorial limit on the coverage of the Act. That Congress intended and understood the broad language of those two provisions to extend beyond the territory of the United States is demonstrated by its enactment of two express exceptions from that coverage that would have been unnecessary if the initial grant of jurisdiction and waiver of immunity had been as narrow as the Government contends. One of those, of course, is the "foreign country" exclusion in 2680(k). See n. 6, supra. The other is the exclusion in 2680(d) for claims asserted under the Suits in Admiralty Act or the Public Vessels Act.7 Without that exclusion, a party with a claim against the United States cognizable under either of those venerable statutes would have had the right to elect the pre-existing remedy or the newly enacted FTCA remedy. Quite obviously that exclusion would have been unnecessary if the FTCA waiver did not extend to the sovereignless expanses of the high seas.

Indeed, it was the enactment of the FTCA in 1946 that first subjected the United States to liability for maritime negligence claims that could not be maintained under either the Suits in Admiralty Act or the Public Vessels Act,8 in particular, claims arising from death or injury on the high seas.

United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred."

6 Section 2674 provides, in pertinent part: "The United States shall be liable, respecting the provisions of this title relating to tort claims, in the same manner and to the same extent as a private individual under like circumstances, but shall not be liable for interest prior to judgment or for punitive damages."

7 Section 2680(d) excludes from the coverage of the FTCA "[a]ny claim for which a remedy is provided by sections 741-752, 781-790 of Title 46, relating to claims or suits in admiralty against the United States."

8 See United States v. United Continental Tuna Corp., 425 U. S. 164, 172 (1976) ("Maritime tort claims deemed beyond the reach of both Acts could be brought only on the law side of the district courts under the Federal Tort Claims Act").


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