Dyer v. National Steam Navigation Company
United States Supreme Court
DYER v. NATIONAL STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY
Argued: May 10, 1886. ---
This case presents nearly the same questions which have just been considered in the case of Place v. Norwich & N. Y. Transp. Co., ante, 1150. It was before this court in October term, 1881, and was decided in March, 1882. See The Scotland, 105 U.S. 24. From the report of the case, but not from the record now before us, we learn that the ship Kate Dyer and the steam-ship Scotland (the latter belonging to the appellee) came into collision in December, 1866, opposite Fire Island light, and the former immediately ately sank, and was lost. The Scotland, being badly injured, put back for New York, but sank outside and south of Sandy Hook, only some strippings being rescued from her before she went down. The owners of the Kate Dyer, and others who had suffered loss, filed libels in personam against the National Steam Navigation Company, respondent, and now appellee, who filed an answer denying that the Scotland was in fault, and pleading that she was sunk and destroyed, and therefore that there was no liability against the respondent. The circuit court, on appeal from the district court, found the Scotland in fault, and rendered a decree in favor of the libelants for the full amount of their damage, amounting, with interest, to upwards of $250,000, besides the costs of the libelants in the district court, amounting to $2,173.10. This decree was reversed by this court in March, 1882, so far as it condemned the respondent to pay the whole amount of damages sustained by the libelants and intervenors, and affirmed as to the residue, the court, in its opinion, holding that the amount of the respondent's liability was the value of the ship's strippings which were saved from the wreck.
The case went back to the circuit court, but was not further prosecuted until June, 1883, when the libelants applied for leave to file a supplemental allegation to their libel, for the purpose of showing that the respondent had received a large amount of insurance for the loss of the Scotland, which the libelants claimed should be included in the amount of the respondent's liability. The amendment was allowed without prejudice to the respondent, and with a reservation of the question as to the legality of such an amendment after the decree of this court had been rendered and a mandate sent down. The case was then referred to ascertain the amount realized from the strippings and from the insurance of the Scotland. The finding of facts in the court below, based on the report of the commissioner, on evidence and on admissions of the parties, states that the amount realized from the strippings was $4,927.85, received on or before the twenty-seventh of July, 1868; that the freight for the voyage was $13,703.20, but no part of it was earned or received; that the passage money was $1,703.65, but was all absorbed in refunding part, and employing the residue in transferring and reshipping the passengers; that the value of the Scotland before the collision was 100,000; and that the insurance effected on her, and received by the respondent, was 61,647, equal to $299,807.42. As conclusions of law, the court held that the proper amount to be paid by the respondent, as depending upon the value of the articles saved, was $4,927.85; and that the insurance received by the respondent formed no part of its interest in the steam-ship, to be surrendered in limitation of its liability under the statute. A decree was thereupon made that the respondent pay into the registry of the court the sum of $4,927.85 as the value of the strippings and remnants of the Scotland; and the sum of $2,173.10, the costs of the libelants in the district court, and the costs in the circuit court; and that upon such payment the respondent should be discharged from all liability to the libelants and intervenors.
To the findings of fact and conclusions of law of the circuit court the libelants excepted on the following grounds, to-wit: (1) That interest should have been allowed on the sum of $4,927.85; (2) that all freight and passage money should have been added; (3) that the amount of insurance received should have been added; (4) that the libelants should have had a decree for their entire loss. On the argument it was also claimed that interest should have been allowed on the costs of the district court, ($2,173.10.)
E. N. Taft, for appellants, Joseph W. Dyer and others.
Jas. C. Carter and
[Argument of Counsel from pages 510-518 intentionally omitted]
John Chetwood, for appellee, National Steam Nav. Co.