Coast Guard Has No Duty to Undertake Rescue Efforts, Court Rules

Wether you are a sailor or power boater, this is important to remember when heading out on the water…

A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a North Carolina widow’s lawsuit blaming the Coast Guard for failing to save her husband’s life, saying the agency does not have a legal obligation to launch life-saving rescues.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., ruled that Susan and Roger Turner suffered an accident in coastal waters on July 4, 2007, and it wasn’t because of Coast Guard negligence. The court ruled that federal law authorizes but does not impose a duty for the Coast Guard to launch rescue efforts.

“Because the USCG has no duty to rescue, the law imposes no standard of care until an attempted rescue commences,” U.S. District Judge John Gibney wrote for the three-judge panel.

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