General Import Export Company v. United States/Opinion of the Court

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Opinion of the Court

United States Supreme Court

286 U.S. 70

General Import Export Company  v.  United States

 Argued: April 15, 1932. --- Decided: May 2, 1932

The steamship Sebastopol was seized by Coast Guard officers in the harbor of New York while carrying an unmanifested cargo of intoxicating liquors. The master of the vessel did not produce a manifest for the cargo when a manifest was demanded by the boarding officer. Thereafter a libel of information was filed by the government under sections 584 and 594 of the Tariff Act of 1922 (Act of Sept. 21, 1922, c. 356, 42 Stat. 858, 980, 982, 19 U.S.C., §§ 486, 498 (19 USCA §§ 486, 498)) for the enforcement of two liens, one of $500 for failing to produce a manifest and another for an amount equal to the value of the cargo for having on board merchandise not described in the manifest.

The District Court dismissed the libel on the ground that section 26 of title 2 of the National Prohibition Act (27 USCA § 40) had established a system of forfeiture exclusive of any other. 47 F.(2d) 336. The Circuit Court of Appeals advanced the view that the suit was not strictly one for the forfeiture of the vessel, but one for the enforcement of money penalties charged upon the vessel by reason of the misconduct of the master. 56 F.(2d) 590. On this ground it distinguished its own decision in the case of the Ruth Mildred, announced at the same time, and gave judgment for the government.

For that reason, as well as for the broader reasons stated in General Motors Acceptance Corporation et al. v. United States, 286 U.S. 49, 52 S.C.t. 468, 76 L. Ed. -, and United States v. The Ruth Mildred, 286 U.S. 67, 52 S.C.t. 473, 76 L. Ed. -, decided herewith, the decree will be affirmed.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).