Falk v. Robertson
This is an action at law brought in the supreme court of the state of New York, by Gustav Falk and Arnold Falk against William H. Robertson, late collector of the port of New York, and removed by the defendant into the circuit court of the United States for the southern district of New York, to recover back duties paid under protest on certain importations of leaf tobacco into the port of New York from Hamburg and Holland, in January and April, 1884. The amount of duty exacted by the collector was $8,408. The plaintiffs contended that the proper duty was only $5,113.85; and they sued to recover back the difference, $3,294.15. They made due protest and appeal. It was claimed by the government, and conceded by the plaintiffs, that the tobacco was dutiable under the following provisions of Schedule F of section 2502 of title 33 of the Revised Statutes, as enacted by section 6 of the act of March 3, 1883, c. 121, (22 St. 503:) 'Leaf tobacco, of which eighty-five per cent. is of the requisite size, and of the necessary fineness of texture to be suitable for wrappers, and of which more than one hundred leaves are required to weigh a pound, if not stemmed, seventy-five cents per pound; if stemmed, one dollar per pound. All other tobacco in leaf, unmanufactured, and not stemmed, thirty-five cents per pound.' The question in issue was whether any of the tobacco was dutiable at 75 cents a pound; and the court at the trial, before Judge SHIPMAN, directed a verdict for the defendant. Judgment was entered accordingly, to review which the plaintiffs have brought a writ of error. The tobacco in question was imported into the United States in bales. In each bale was a quantity of leaf tobacco answering the description in the statute of that dutiable at 75 cents per pound, except that it formed only about 83 per cent. of the contents of the bale. It was Sumatra tobacco, imported from Sumatra into Europe in the same bale in which it was imported into this country. When the bale arrived in Europe, the entire contents of it were within the description of that dutiable here at 75 cents a pound; but in Europe the bale was repacked, by taking out of it a quantity of its contents, and substituting therefor a sufficient quantity of inferior tobacco, called 'fillers,' to reduce the proportion of the 75-cent tobacco in the entire bale to less than 85 per cent. of the contents of the bale, as imported into the United States. The 75-cent tobacco was separated from the other by strips of paper or cloth, so that the one kind was readily distinguishable and separable from the other when the bale was opened in the United States.
Joseph H. Choate and Chas. C. Beaman, for plaintiffs in error.
[Argument of Counsel from pages 226-231 intentionally omitted]
Asst. Atty. Gen. Maury, for defendant in error.