Mordecal v. Lindsay
THIS was an appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for the district of South Carolina.
It was a libel filed on the 6th of April, 1854, in the District Court of South Carolina, by Mordecai & Co., against the schooner Mary Eddy, and all persons intervening.
A very brief narrative will be sufficient to show the condition in which the case was, when it left the District Court, and this is all that is required under the present opinion of this court.
In March, 1854, the Mary Eddy was in New Orleans, about to sail for Charleston. One hundred and two hogsheads of sugar were shipped on board of her, which were to be delivered to Mordecai & Co. The libel was for the non-delivery of these articles.
The answer admitted the shipment and arrival of the vessel in Charleston, and then averred the delivery of three hogsheads of the sugar, (together with some barrels of syrup,) the freight of which Mordecai & Co. refused to pay. The answer then alleged that the libellants, having refused to pay freight until the sugars were received by them at their store, or until possession had passed to them, the master unloaded the residue of the sugars, and, when landed on the wharf, gave notice to Mordecai & Co. that he would deliver the articles to them upon payment of the freight; that Mordecai & Co. having refused to do this, the master retained the custody of the sugars in order to preserve his lien for the freight. A correspondence took place between the parties, which it is not necessary to state for the purposes of this report.
The district judge decreed in favor of the libellants, with costs, and then added:
'Mr. Gray, the commissioner and clerk of this court, will ascertain the charges to be made against the respective parties to this suit, and state the account between them. For this purpose, he is authorized to use the testimony already reported, and such further evidence as may be brought before him in relation to this point.'
Without any further proceedings being had in the case, the claimants appealed to the Circuit Court, and the record was accordingly transmitted.
When the cause came up for hearing before the circuit judge, he reversed the decree of the District Court, and dismissed the libel with costs, whereupon the libellants appealed to this court.
The case was argued upon its merits by Mr. Phillips for the appellants, and Mr. Johnson and Mr. Reverdy Johnson, jr., for the claimants, whose arguments it is not necessary to state in this report, in consequence of the case being decided upon a preliminary point.
Mr. Justice WAYNE delivered the opinion of the court.
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