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US court rules US Coast Guard broke law denying a captain right to earn a living

AN experienced merchant mariner day bested the US Coast Guard when DC District Court Judge Amit Mehta ruled that authorities violated federal law in denying Matthew Hight the opportunity to take an exam that would allow him to register as a ship's pilot

30 March 2021 - 19:00
AN experienced merchant mariner day bested the US Coast Guard when DC District Court Judge Amit Mehta ruled that authorities violated federal law in denying Matthew Hight the opportunity to take an exam that would allow him to register as a ship's pilot.

The US Coast Guard allowed the St Lawrence Seaway Pilots Association to determine who can and cannot work as a pilot on the Great Lakes, reported the American Journal of Transportation.



The members of the profit-making Seaway pilots association are themselves pilots on the Great Lakes, and thus pick their own competition, said the report.



After Capt Hight questioned how the association managed its finances, it gave him a negative recommendation, saying he used profanity while piloting a ship. As far as the Coast Guard was concerned, the negative recommendation was the end of Capt Hight's career as a pilot.



Judge Mehta ruled that the Coast Guard violated the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs how federal agencies regulate.



He wrote that the Coast Guard had failed to offer any interpretation of its regulations that would justify its delegation of authority to the association.



The decision orders the Coast Guard to administer the exam, but that does not guarantee that Captain Hight will receive his registration should he pass.



It remains an open question whether the Coast Guard will continue to defer to the pilot association's negative recommendation even though that decision was motivated by a personal disagreement rather than Captain Hight's capabilities.


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