United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E.D
June 17, 1964
SAMUEL B. BLANKSTEN, PLAINTIFF,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Will, District Judge.
This action arises out of a collision of the plaintiff's yacht
with a seawall approximately one and one-half miles south of Navy
Pier, off the Chicago shoreline. The United States moves for
summary judgment, supporting its motion with references to the
plaintiff's deposition and an uncontroverted affidavit filed by
an attorney of the United States Department of Justice.
From this affidavit the Court finds that the seawall with which
plaintiff's yacht collided was constructed by the Chicago Park
District over forty years ago, that no agency of the United
States ever constructed, owned, maintained, operated or had any
other interest in the seawall, and that the bed of Lake Michigan
upon which the seawall was constructed is owned by the State of
The United States urges that this suit must be dismissed
because, as a matter of law, the United States is under no duty
to mark, in a navigable body of water which it does not own,
obstacles which it has not created, which it does not own or
maintain, and in which it has no interest.
In Thornton v. United States, Admiralty No. 2666(s)(c),
S.D.Miss., 1964, 236 F. Supp. 651, the libelants sued the United
States when their craft struck a submerged piling and sank. The
piling with which their vessel collided had been the support for
a boat house at the end of a pier extending from a lighthouse
originally constructed and for a period of time maintained by the
United States. The tract of land on which the lighthouse and pier
were located was sold by the United States in 1951, after which
date the respondent did not control the offending piling nor did
it erect any warning at the site of the piling. Judge Cox
concluded that the United States had no duty to mark the piling
after the sale. The instant case is even clearer than Thornton,
supra. Here, the defendant never exercised any control over the
offending seawall. The plaintiff will not be heard to urge that
the United States had a duty to mark, or is responsible for a
collision with, a seawall over which it had no authority merely
because such seawall is erected in a navigable waterway. This is
the bare contention of plaintiff; it is insufficient in law.
The motion for summary judgment will be granted and the case
dismissed. An order consistent with the foregoing will be
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