seaman with seven years experience, and it certainly must have been known to him that health services were available. Testimony also revealed that the libellant's brother was a retired seaman with thirty years experience, and that on several occasions he visited his brother and found him so incapacitated that he was unable to walk. On these occasions, libellant's brother testified, he would aid libellant into his automobile and take him for a ride. It is difficult for me to comprehend that libellant, on these occasions, did not make on effort to visit the United States Public Health Service Hospital located on Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.
'* * * The fact that United States Public Health Service Hospitals throughout the country are open to seamen for medical treatment is so well known among them that it should preclude the argument that seafarers may be ignorant of their right to free hospitalization and medical care.'
Norris, Law of Seamen (id Ed. 1962) § 594, p. 685.
Equity is not a stranger in Admiralty and the Admiralty Courts may grant or deny any equitable relief depending upon the merits of the relief sought. Maintenance and cure was designed to provide a seaman with the necessary food and lodging when he became sick or injured aboard ship, or in the service of the ship, and it extended to the period until the seaman reached the maximum medical recovery. Calmar Steamship Corp. v. Taylor, 303 U.S. 525, 58 S. Ct. 651, 82 L. Ed. 993. The Admiralty Courts have been liberal in interpreting this duty to insure the protection of seamen and have resolved any ambiguity or doubt in favor of the seaman. Aguilar v. Standard Oil Co., 318 U.S. 724, 735, 63 S. Ct. 930, 87 L. Ed. 1107.
The duty of maintenance and cure is an affirmative one. This duty on the part of the master to care for seamen is one of the oldest and most conspicuous in the law of affirmative obligations. However, the authorities are in agreement that, except in cases involving grave and severe operations, a seaman must follow the expert recommendation of a physician or be precluded from recovering damages which might be avoided thereby. Murphy v. American Barge Line Co., 169 F.2d 61 (3 Cir. 1948). Only wilful misbehavior or a deliberate act of indiscretion will be sufficient to deprive a seaman of his maintenance and cure. However, the conception of contributory negligence, the fellow-servant doctrine, and the assumption of risk have no place in liability or a defense against maintenance and cure. Farrell v. United States, 336 U.S. 511, 516, 69 S. Ct. 707, 93 L. Ed. 850.
In the course of seeking medical attention, a seaman has a duty to keep the cost of his maintenance and cure at a minimum. Wiseman v. Sinclair Refining Company, 290 F.2d 818 (2 Cir. 1961). Libellant here has demonstrated his failure to seek any medical cure or attention. A seaman's failure to act with reasonable diligence and seek medical aid to find out what is really the matter with him after an injury, may bar him from obtaining or procuring maintenance and cure. Bowers v. Seas Shipping Co., Inc., 185 F.2d 352 (4 Cir. 1950).
It is to be noted that libellant did not seek medical treatment until ten months after he was ashore. Even after seeing a physician who recommended that libellant should seek further treatment from a dermatologist, he failed to seek such treatment. Respondent herein was not callous in its attitute toward libellant. As soon as it received notification from libellant's proctor, respondent replied to both letters requesting proof of the claims. Thus, it was not the result of any recalcitrance or wilful or persistent default on the part of the respondent that persisted in the libellant's lack of medical treatment. Vaughan v. Atkinson, 369 U.S. 527, 531, 82 S. Ct. 997, 8 L. Ed. 2d 88.
This Court had the full opportunity to observe the entire trial, and to observe the competency and frankness of all the witnesses involved therein, and to apprise their demeanor. This Court is not convinced that the evidence presented before it could sustain a finding that the libellant should be entitled to maintenance and cure. It was inconceivable to this Court that the libellant could have been bedfast for ten months without having sought medical treatment while having had available to him the competent advice of his brother, a seaman of thirty years experience, and a brother who drove the libellant on many little pleasure trips without ever having taken him to the United States Public Health Service Hospital. Thus, libellant was not without means to be transported to the health center. Murphy v. American Barge Line Co., supra.
To my way of thinking, the libellant has failed to prove his allegations to support his claim for maintenance and cure.
And now, this twenty-ninth day of September, 1964, it is ordered that the request for payment of maintenance and cure for George M. Diddlebock, deceased, by his Administrator, Harry Diddlebock, be and the same is hereby denied.
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