[USC02] 22 USC CHAPTER 51, SUBCHAPTER I, Part 4: Claims for Injuries to Persons or Property
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22 USC CHAPTER 51, SUBCHAPTER I, Part 4: Claims for Injuries to Persons or Property
From Title 22—FOREIGN RELATIONS AND INTERCOURSECHAPTER 51—PANAMA CANALSUBCHAPTER I—ADMINISTRATION AND REGULATIONS

Part 4—Claims for Injuries to Persons or Property

subpart i—general provisions

§3761. Settlement of claims generally

(a) Claims for injury to, or loss of, property or personal injury or death arising from operation of Panama Canal

Subject to the provisions of this part, the Commission may adjust and pay claims for injury to, or loss of, property or for personal injury or death, arising from the operation of the Panama Canal or related facilities and appurtenances.

(b) Limitation on amount of claims

The Commission may pay not more than $50,000 on any claim described in subsection (a).

(c) Source of award; release

An award made to a claimant under this section shall be payable out of any moneys made available to the Commission. The acceptance by the claimant of the award shall be final and conclusive on the claimant, and shall constitute a complete release by the claimant of his claim against the United States and against any employee of the United States acting in the course of his employment who is involved in the matter giving rise to the claim.

(d) Action for damages on claims cognizable under this part; action against officers or employees of United States for injuries resulting from acts outside scope of their employment

Except as provided in section 3776 of this title, no action for damages on claims cognizable under this part shall lie against the United States or the Commission, and no such action shall lie against any officer or employee of the United States. Neither this section nor section 3776 of this title shall preclude actions against officers or employees of the United States for injuries resulting from their acts outside the scope of their employment or not in the line of their duties, or from their acts committed with the intent to injure the person or property of another.

(e) Applicability of provisions of section 1346 and chapter 171 of title 28

The provisions of section 1346(b) of title 28 and the provisions of chapter 171 of such title shall not apply to claims cognizable under this part.

(Pub. L. 96–70, title I, §1401, Sept. 27, 1979, 93 Stat. 484; Pub. L. 100–203, title V, §5417(a), Dec. 22, 1987, 101 Stat. 1330–271; Pub. L. 104–106, div. C, title XXXV, §3529(4), Feb. 10, 1996, 110 Stat. 642.)

Amendments

1996—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 104–106 struck out "appropriated for or" after "any moneys".

1987—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 100–203 amended subsec. (b) generally. Prior to amendment, subsec. (b) read as follows: "No claim for an amount exceeding $50,000 shall be adjusted and paid by the Commission under the provisions of this subpart."

subpart ii—vessel damage

§3771. Injuries in locks of canal; adjustment and payment of claims

(a) Subject to section 3779(b) of this title and to subsection (b) of this section, the Commission shall promptly adjust and pay damages for injuries to vessels, or to the cargo, crew, or passengers of vessels, which may arise by reason of their passage through the locks of the Panama Canal when the injury was proximately caused by negligence or fault on the part of an officer or employee of the United States acting within the scope of his employment and in the line of his duties in connection with the operation of the Canal. If the negligence or fault of the vessel, master, crew, or passengers proximately contributed to the injury, the award of damages shall be diminished in proportion to the negligence or fault attributable to the vessel, master, crew, or passengers. Damages may not be allowed and paid for injuries to any protrusion beyond any portion of the hull of a vessel, whether it is permanent or temporary in character. A vessel is considered to be passing through the locks of the Canal, under the control of officers or employees of the United States, from the time the first towing line is made fast on board before entrance into the locks and until the towing lines are cast off upon, or immediately prior to, departure from the lock chamber. No payment for damages on a claim may be made under this section unless the claim is filed with the Commission within one year after the date of the injury or by November 18, 1998, whichever is later.

(b)(1) With respect to a claim under subsection (a) for damages for injuries to a vessel or its cargo, if, at the time the injuries were incurred, the navigation or movement of the vessel was not under the control of a Panama Canal pilot, the Commission may pay not more than $50,000 on the claim, unless the injuries were caused by another vessel under the control of a Panama Canal pilot.

(2) The provisions of subsections (c) through (e) of section 3761 of this title shall apply to any claim described in paragraph (1).

(Pub. L. 96–70, title I, §1411, Sept. 27, 1979, 93 Stat. 485; Pub. L. 99–209, §2(a), (b), Dec. 23, 1985, 99 Stat. 1716; Pub. L. 100–203, title V, §5417(b), Dec. 22, 1987, 101 Stat. 1330–271; Pub. L. 105–85, div. C, title XXXV, §3543(a), Nov. 18, 1997, 111 Stat. 2072; Pub. L. 105–261, div. C, title XXXV, §§3509(a)(1), 3512(a)(4), Oct. 17, 1998, 112 Stat. 2269, 2271.)

Amendments

1998—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 105–261 inserted "to section 3779(b) of this title and" after "Subject" in first sentence and substituted "by November 18, 1998" for "November 18, 1997".

1997—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 105–85 substituted "within one year after the date of the injury or November 18, 1997," for "within 2 years after the date of the injury, or within 1 year after December 23, 1985,".

1987—Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 100–203 substituted "pay not more than $50,000 on the claim" for "adjust and pay the claim only if the amount of the claim does not exceed $50,000".

1985—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 99–209, §2(a), designated existing provisions as subsec. (a), substituted "Subject to subsection (b) of this section, the" for "The", substituted "the Panama Canal when the injury was proximately caused by negligence or fault on the part of an officer or employee of the United States acting within the scope of his employment and in the line of his duties in connection with the operation of the Canal" for "The Panama Canal under the control of officers or employees of the United States", struck out provision that damages could not be paid where the injury was proximately caused by the negligence or fault of the vessel, master, crew, or passengers, and inserted provision that no payment for damages on a claim may be made under this section unless the claim is filed with the Commission within 2 years after the date of the injury, or within 1 year after Dec. 23, 1985, whichever is later.

Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 99–209, §2(b), added subsec. (b).

Effective Date of 1985 Amendment

Pub. L. 99–209, §7, Dec. 23, 1985, 99 Stat. 1718, provided that:

"(a) Retroactive Applicability.—The amendments made by subsections (a) and (c) of section 2 [amending this section and section 3772 of this title], and the amendments made by sections 4 and 5 of this Act [amending sections 3775 and 3776 of this title], shall apply to any claim arising on or after October 1, 1979.

"(b) Future Applicability.—

"(1) Sections 3 and 6.—The amendments made by sections 3 [amending section 3774 of this title] and 6 [enacting section 3779 of this title] of this Act shall apply to any claim arising on or after the date of the enactment of this Act [Dec. 23, 1985].

"(2) Section 2(b).—The amendment made by subsection (b) of section 2 [amending this section] shall apply to any claim arising from an incident occurring on or after the date of the enactment of this Act [Dec. 23, 1985]."

§3772. Injuries outside locks

Subject to section 3779(b) of this title, the Commission shall promptly adjust and pay damages for injuries to vessels, or to the cargo, crew, or passengers of vessels which may arise by reason of their presence in the Panama Canal, or waters adjacent thereto, other than the locks, when the injury was proximately caused by negligence or fault on the part of an officer or employee of the United States acting within the scope of his employment and in the line of his duties in connection with the operation of the Canal. If the negligence or fault of the vessel, master, crew, or passengers proximately contributed to the injury, the award of damages shall be diminished in proportion to the negligence or fault attributable to the vessel, master, crew, or passengers. In the case of a vessel which is required by or pursuant to regulations prescribed pursuant to section 3811 of this title to have a Panama Canal pilot on duty aboard, damages may not be adjusted and paid for injuries to the vessel, or its cargo, crew, or passengers, incurred while the vessel was underway and in motion, unless at the time the injuries were incurred the navigation or movement of the vessel was under the control of a Panama Canal pilot. No payment for damages on a claim may be made under this section unless the claim is filed with the Commission within one year after the date of the injury or by November 18, 1998, whichever is later.

(Pub. L. 96–70, title I, §1412, Sept. 27, 1979, 93 Stat. 485; Pub. L. 99–209, §2(c), Dec. 23, 1985, 99 Stat. 1716; Pub. L. 105–85, div. C, title XXXV, §3543(a), Nov. 18, 1997, 111 Stat. 2072; Pub. L. 105–261, div. C, title XXXV, §§3509(a)(2), 3512(a)(4), Oct. 17, 1998, 112 Stat. 2270, 2271.)

Amendments

1998Pub. L. 105–261 substituted "Subject to section 3779(b) of this title, the Commission" for "The Commission" in first sentence and "by November 18, 1998" for "November 18, 1997".

1997Pub. L. 105–85 substituted "within one year after the date of the injury or November 18, 1997," for "within 2 years after the date of the injury, or within 1 year after December 23, 1985,".

1985Pub. L. 99–209 struck out provisions limiting the amount of the claim to $120,000, and inserted provision that no payment for damages on a claim may be made under this section unless the claim is filed with the Commission within 2 years after the date of the injury, or within 1 year after Dec. 23, 1985, whichever is later.

Effective Date of 1985 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 99–209 applicable to any claim arising on or after Oct. 1, 1979, see section 7(a) of Pub. L. 99–209, set out as a note under section 3771 of this title.

§3773. Measure of damages generally

In determining the amount of the award of damages for injuries to a vessel for which the Commission is determined to be liable, there may be included—

(1) the actual or estimated cost of repairs;

(2) charter hire actually lost by the owners, or charter hire actually paid, depending upon the terms of the charter party, for the time the vessel is undergoing repairs;

(3) maintenance of the vessel and wages of the crew, if they are found to be actual additional expenses or losses incurred outside of the charter hire; and

(4) other expenses which are definitely and accurately shown to have been incurred necessarily and by reason of the accident or injuries.


Agent's fees, or commissions, or other incidental expenses of similar character, or any items which are indefinite, indeterminable, speculative, or conjectural may not be allowed. The Commission shall be furnished such vouchers, receipts, or other evidence as may be necessary in support of any item of a claim. If a vessel is not operated under charter but by the owner directly, evidence shall be secured if available as to the sum for which vessels of the same size and class can be chartered in the market. If the charter value cannot be determined, the value of the vessel to its owners in the business in which it was engaged at the time of the injuries shall be used as a basis for estimating the damages for the vessel's detention; and the books of the owners showing the vessel's earnings about the time of the accident or injuries shall be considered as evidence of probable earnings during the time of detention. If the books are unavailable, such other evidence shall be furnished as may be necessary.

(Pub. L. 96–70, title I, §1413, Sept. 27, 1979, 93 Stat. 486.)

§3774. Delays for which no responsibility is assumed

The Commission is not responsible, and may not consider any claim, for demurrage or delays caused by—

(1) landslides or other natural causes;

(2) necessary construction or maintenance work on Canal locks, terminals, or equipment;

(3) obstruction arising from accidents;

(4) time necessary for admeasurement;

(5) congestion of traffic;

(6) investigation of a marine accident that is conducted within 24 hours after the accident occurs, except that any liability of the Commission beyond that 24-hour period shall be limited to the extent to which the accident was caused, or contributed to, by the negligence of an employee of the Commission acting within the scope of the employee's official duties; or

(7) except as specially set forth in this subpart, any other cause.

(Pub. L. 96–70, title I, §1414, Sept. 27, 1979, 93 Stat. 486; Pub. L. 99–209, §3, Dec. 23, 1985, 99 Stat. 1717.)

Amendments

1985—Par. (6). Pub. L. 99–209 amended par. (6) generally. Prior to amendment, par. (6) read as follows: "time necessary for investigation of marine accidents; or".

Effective Date of 1985 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 99–209 applicable to any claim arising on or after Dec. 23, 1985, see section 7(b)(1) of Pub. L. 99–209, set out as a note under section 3771 of this title.

§3775. Settlement of claims

The Commission, by mutual agreement, compromise, or otherwise, may adjust and determine the amounts of the respective awards of damages pursuant to this subpart. Such amounts may be paid only out of money allotted for the maintenance and operation of the Panama Canal. Acceptance by a claimant of the amount awarded to him shall be deemed to be in full settlement of such claim against the Government of the United States.

(Pub. L. 96–70, title I, §1415, Sept. 27, 1979, 93 Stat. 486; Pub. L. 99–209, §4, Dec. 23, 1985, 99 Stat. 1717; Pub. L. 104–106, div. C, title XXXV, §3529(5), Feb. 10, 1996, 110 Stat. 642.)

Amendments

1996Pub. L. 104–106 struck out "appropriated or" after "out of money" in second sentence.

1985Pub. L. 99–209 struck out the subsec. (a) designation, substituted "The Commission, by" for "Subject to subsection (b) of this section, the Commission, by" and "Such amounts may be paid only out of money appropriated or allotted for the maintenance and operation of the Panama Canal" for "Such amounts shall be payable promptly out of any moneys appropriated or allotted for the maintenance and operation of the Panama Canal", and struck out subsec. (b) which provided that the Commission could not adjust and pay any claim for damages for injuries arising by reason of the presence of the vessel in the Panama Canal or adjacent waters outside the locks where the amount of the claim exceeded $120,000 but had to submit the claim to the Congress in a special report containing the material facts and the recommendation of the Commission thereon.

Effective Date of 1985 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 99–209 applicable to any claim arising on or after Oct. 1, 1979, see section 7(a) of Pub. L. 99–209, set out as a note under section 3771 of this title.

§3776. Actions on claims

Subject to section 3779(b) of this title, a claimant for damages pursuant to section 3771(a) or 3772 of this title who considers himself aggrieved by the findings, determination, or award of the Commission in reference to his claim may bring an action on the claim against the Commission in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Subject to the provisions of this part and of applicable regulations issued pursuant to section 3811 of this title relative to navigation of the Panama Canal and adjacent waters, such actions shall proceed and be heard by the court without a jury according to the principles of law and rules of practice obtaining generally in like cases between a private party and a department or agency of the United States. Any judgment obtained against the Commission in an action under this subpart may be paid only out of money allotted for the maintenance and operation of the Panama Canal. An action for damages cognizable under this section shall not otherwise lie against the United States or the Commission, nor in any other court, than as provided in this section; nor may it lie against any officer or employee of the United States or of the Commission. Any action on a claim under this section shall be barred unless the action is brought within 180 days after the date on which the Commission mails to the claimant written notification of the Commission's final determination with respect to the claim or by May 17, 1998, whichever is later. Attorneys appointed by the Commission shall represent the Commission in any action arising under this subpart.

(Pub. L. 96–70, title I, §1416, Sept. 27, 1979, 93 Stat. 487; Pub. L. 99–209, §5, Dec. 23, 1985, 99 Stat. 1717; Pub. L. 104–106, div. C, title XXXV, §3529(6), Feb. 10, 1996, 110 Stat. 642; Pub. L. 105–85, div. C, title XXXV, §3543(b), Nov. 18, 1997, 111 Stat. 2072; Pub. L. 105–261, div. C, title XXXV, §§3509(a)(3), 3512(a)(5), Oct. 17, 1998, 112 Stat. 2270, 2271.)

Amendments

1998Pub. L. 105–261 substituted "Subject to section 3779(b) of this title, a claimant" for "A claimant" in first sentence and "by May 17, 1998" for "November 18, 1997".

1997Pub. L. 105–85 substituted "180 days" for "one year" and "claim or November 18, 1997," for "claim, or within one year after December 23, 1985,".

1996Pub. L. 104–106 struck out "appropriated or" after "out of money" in third sentence.

1985Pub. L. 99–209 substituted "section 3771(a) or 3772 of this title" for "section 3771 of this title", substituted "may be paid only out out money" for "shall be paid out of any moneys", and inserted provisions that any action on a claim under this section shall be barred unless the action is brought within one year after the date on which the Commission mails to the claimant written notification of the Commission's final determination with respect to the claim, or within one year after Dec. 23, 1985, whichever is later, and that attorneys appointed by the Commission shall represent the Commission in any action arising under this subpart.

Effective Date of 1985 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 99–209 applicable to any claim arising on or after Oct. 1, 1979, see section 7(a) of Pub. L. 99–209, set out as a note under section 3771 of this title.

§3777. Investigation of accident or injury giving rise to claim

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a claim may not be considered under this subpart, or an action for damages lie thereon, unless, prior to the departure from the Panama Canal of the vessel involved—

(1) an investigation of the accident or injury giving rise to the claim has been completed, which shall include a hearing by the Board of Local Inspectors of the Commission; and

(2) the basis for the claim has been laid before the Commission.

(Pub. L. 96–70, title I, §1417, Sept. 27, 1979, 93 Stat. 487; Pub. L. 104–201, div. C, title XXXV, §3544, Sept. 23, 1996, 110 Stat. 2867.)

Amendments

1996—Par. (1). Pub. L. 104–201 amended par. (1) generally. Prior to amendment, par. (1) read as follows: "an investigation by the competent authorities of the accident or injury giving rise to the claim has been completed; and".

§3778. Board of local inspectors

(a) The President shall provide for the establishment of a Board of Local Inspectors of the Panama Canal Commission which shall perform, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the President—

(1) the investigations required by section 3777 of this title; and

(2) such other duties with respect to marine matters as may be assigned by the President.


(b) In conducting any investigation pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the Board of Local Inspectors established pursuant to such subsection may summon witnesses, administer oaths, and require the production of books and papers necessary for such investigation.

(Pub. L. 96–70, title I, §1418, Sept. 27, 1979, 93 Stat. 487.)

Delegation of Functions

Functions vested in President by this section delegated to Secretary of Defense, see section 1–303 of Ex. Ord. No. 12215, May 27, 1980, 45 F.R. 36044, set out as a note under section 3601 of this title.

§3779. Insurance

(a) The Commission is authorized to purchase insurance to protect the Commission against major and unpredictable revenue losses or expenses arising from catastrophic marine accidents or other unpredictable events.

(b)(1) The Commission may by regulation require as a condition of transit through the Panama Canal or presence in the Panama Canal or waters adjacent thereto that any potential claimant under section 3771 or 3772 of this title be covered by insurance against the types of injuries described in those sections. The amount of insurance so required shall be specified in those regulations, but may not exceed $1,000,000.

(2) In a claim under section 3771 or 3772 of this title for which the Commission has required insurance under this subsection, the Commission's liability shall be limited to the amount of damages in excess of the amount of insurance required by the Commission.

(3) In regulations under this subsection, the Commission may prohibit consideration or payment by it of claims presented by or on behalf of an insurer or subrogee of a claimant in a case for which the Commission has required insurance under this subsection.

(Pub. L. 96–70, title I, §1419, as added Pub. L. 99–209, §6(a), Dec. 23, 1985, 99 Stat. 1717; amended Pub. L. 100–203, title V, §5414, Dec. 22, 1987, 101 Stat. 1330–270; Pub. L. 105–261, div. C, title XXXV, §3509(b), Oct. 17, 1998, 112 Stat. 2270.)

Amendments

1998Pub. L. 105–261 designated existing provisions as subsec. (a) and added subsec. (b).

1987Pub. L. 100–203 inserted "or other unpredictable events" after "marine accidents".

Effective Date

Section applicable to any claim arising on or after Dec. 23, 1985, see section 7(b)(1) of Pub. L. 99–209, set out as an Effective Date of 1985 Amendment note under section 3771 of this title.