Canada Sugar Refining Company v. Insurance Company of North America
The Canada Sugar Refining Company, a Canadian corporation, on November 27, 1894, filed a libel and complaint in the district court of the United States for the southern district of New York against the Insurance Company of North America, a Pennsylvania corporation, to recover insurance effected by the libellant with the respondent in the amount of $15,000 on profits on a cargo of sugar shipped on board the British ship John E. Sayre, at and from Iloilo to Montreal, Canada. The respondent answered, the cause came on to be heard upon the pleadings, proceedings, and proofs, and resulted, June 15, 1897, in a decree in favor of the libellant for the full amount of the insurance, with interest and costs. The case was taken on appeal to the United States circuit court of appeals, where, on April 23, 1893, a final decree was entered reversing the decree of the district court, and ordering that the libel be dismissed, with costs in both courts to the appellant.
On the libellant's petition, on May 10, 1898, a writ of certiorari was granted, under which the cause and the record and proceedings therein were removed into this court.
The material facts of the case were as follows:
On April 29, 1893, the respondent company insured for the libellant's benefit:
'$15,000 on profits on cargo sugar; against total loss only; valued at sum insured; shipped on board the British ship John E. Sayre at and from Iloilo to Montreal.'
At that time the Sayre was at sea prosecuting the voyage. The libellant had 2,462 tons of sugars on board of her, amounting in value to $181,000, and had just completed insurance of the sugars to the amount of $166,145 in the Atlantic Mutual, of which insurance the respondent was informed before its insurance on profits was made. In July following the Sayre stranded on the coast of Newfoundland, and all the cargo was lost excepting about 300 tons, which was saved by the aid of salvors, of which one half went to them as their agreed compensation. The agreement was originally made by the master soon after the stranding; but a few days afterwards the agent of the Atlantic Mutual appeared, to whom the master turned over the salvage operations. He confirmed the previous agreement with the salvors; reimbursed to the master the expenses already incurred by him, and thenceforward, with the libellant's consent and the defendant's knowledge and acquiescence, took the complete control and disposition of the cargo. The agent eventually bought from the salvors the moieties of the sugars allotted to them under the agreement, and then shipped all the suger saved to the order of the insurers to Montreal. The value of all the sugar that reached Montreal was about $20,000, and the expenses and salvage charges paid by the Atlantic Mutual thereon, and the additional freight to Montreal, exceeded $11,000, so that out of the whole cargo worth $181,000, less than $9,000 net was saved. The Atlantic Mutual settled with the libellant as for a total loss, under its policy of $166,145, and it turned over the sugars saved in part settlement of that sum, on about the basis of the average pro rata policy valuation. The respondent contested its liability upon the policy on profits on the ground chiefly that the receipt by the libellant of a portion of the sugars, viz., about $20,000 in value, prevents the loss from being 'total' within the terms of its policy.
Mr. Wilhelmus Mynderse for petitioner.
Mr. Clifford A. Hand for respondent.
Mr. Justice Shiras delivered the opinion of the court: