CELEBREZZE, Circuit Judge.
The United States brought this action under the Medical Care Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2651-2653, to recover the reasonable value of medical care and treatment furnished to a person who was injured "* * * under circumstances creating a tort liability upon [the Defendants] * * * to pay damages * * *." 42 U.S.C. § 2651(a). Defendants' motion for summary judgment was granted by the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee on the ground that 42 U.S.C. § 2651(b) (2) barred this independent action since the Government had failed to intervene in a suit brought by the injured person "* * * within six months after the first day in which care and treatment [had been] furnished * * *." The United States has appealed. We reverse the judgment of the District Court and remand the cause for further proceedings.
James Woodman was treated in the United States Naval Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, for injuries sustained in an automobile accident that ocurred on March 15, 1964, and that was allegedly caused by the negligence of one of Defendants' employees. On July 22, 1964, Woodman sued the Defendants in the General Sessions Court of Shelby County and received a judgment of $2500.00, which was subsequently settled for $2000.00. The United States had no notice or knowledge of the lawsuit in the General Sessions Court and did not intervene in that action. Although it is disputed whether Woodman attempted to recover for the cost of medical care provided by the Government, it is undisputed that he testified, and the Defendants were aware, that he had received his treatment at the United States Naval Hospital.
Prior to enactment of the Medical Care Recovery Act, the United States in most cases could not recover the value of medical care and treatment furnished to persons who had been injured by third person tortfeasors. In many cases the value of those services was a windfall to the tortfeasor since the injured person could not recover for expenses that he had not paid. Cf. United States v. Bartholomew, 266 F.Supp. 213 (W.D. Okla.1967); Feeley v. United States, 337 F.2d 924 (3d Cir. 1964); Annot., 7 A.L.R.3d 516 (1966). An attempt to establish the Government's right to such damages, roughly analogous to a husband's right to loss of services for injury to his wife, was rejected by the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Standard Oil Co., 332 U.S. 301, 67 S.Ct. 1604, 91 L.Ed. 2067 (1947). In a belated reaction to that decision,
Seizing upon other language in Subsection (a) of Section 2651,
Having found that the Government's right is an independent right, we also reject the Defendants' contention that the United States must give notice of its claim to the tortfeasor. The statute does not require notice and will itself serve as notice of the Government's right to the recovery sought in this suit.
In the end, the Defendants are willing to concede all that has been said before but, nevertheless, contend that although the Government may have a right its remedy is barred by Subsection (b) of Section 2651. Subsection (b) provides:
Clause (2) raises the troublesome question in this case: if such action is commenced within the described six months period and the United States does not intervene, is the Government then forever barred from maintaining an independent action for the reasonable value of the medical care and treatment furnished to the injured person? Several Federal District Courts have held that the Government is barred in such a situation. United States v. Housing Authority of the City of Bremerton, 276 F.Supp. 966, 969 (W.D.Wash.1967); United States v. York, 261 F.Supp. 713 (W.D.Tenn.1966) (the instant case); United States v. Merrigan (D.N.J.1967, Civil Action No. 835-65 unreported) reversed 389 F.2d 21 (3d Cir. 1968). At least one District Court, however, has disagreed with that interpretation of the statute, United States v. Wittrock, 268 F.Supp. 325 (E.D.Penn.1967); as has the Third Circuit. United States v. Merrigan, 389 F.2d 21 (3d Cir. 1968). We also disagree with that interpretation of the Act.
In effect, the Defendants assert that Subsection (b) serves as a partial statute of limitations on the exercise of the right created in the United States by the Act. If the enforcement provisions of Subsection (b) were exclusive, the argument of the Defendants would have some validity. However, exclusiveness does not follow from the necessary implications of the words used in Subsection (b), and nothing in the legislative history of the Act indicates that, by providing certain procedures of enforcement, Congress intended to exclude all other methods of enforcement that would normally be available to the Government.
Furthermore, in the case of this statute the express inclusion of certain procedures in Subsection (b) is even less persuasive of implied exclusion of all other procedures, because both clause(1) and clause (2) were necessary to effectuate certain specific desires of Congress. Cf. Springer v. Government of Philippine Islands, 277 U.S. 189, 48 S.Ct. 480, 72 L.Ed. 845 (1928). Clause (1) was necessary in order to give the United States an absolute right to intervene, not subject to the discretion of the trial judge. Rule 24(a), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure; see 4 Moore, Federal Practice Par. 24.10. Clause (2) was required to delay the exercise of the Government's right of action for a reasonable time to give the injured person an opportunity to bring the necessary action if he so desired;
If no enforcement procedure had been provided, the Attorney General by virtue of his office could protect the interest of the United States in the usual way, by bringing an action in an appropriate court. United States v. San Jacinto Tin Co., 125 U.S. 273, 279, 8 S.Ct. 850, 31 L.Ed. 747 (1888); Sanitary District of Chicago v. United States, 266 U.S. 405, 425-426, 45 S.Ct. 176, 69 L.Ed. 352 (1925). When a specific interest and right has been conferred upon the United States by statute, the remedies and procedures for enforcing that right are not to be narrowly construed so as to prevent the effectuation of the policy declared by Congress. Wyandotte Transportation Co. v. United States, 389 U.S. 191, 88 S.Ct. 379, 19 L.Ed.2d 407 (1967). The purpose of Clause (2) was to insure that the Government, by exercising its right, would not impair the injured person's right to recover for his own damages. It was not intended to serve as a bar to the Government's later exercise of its own independent
Reversed and remanded.