Huus v. New York & Porto Rico Steamship Company
Statement by Mr. Justice Brown:
This was a libel filed in the district court for the southern district of New York to recover spoken pilotage upon the American built steamship Ponce, belonging to the defendant, a New York corporation.
The facts were that libellant, on June 25, 1900, offered his service as a Sandy Hook pilot to the master of the Ponce, then about entering the harbor of New York, her port of destination, from the port of San Juan, in the island of Porto Rico. Libellant, who was a duly licensed Sandy Hook pilot, was the first and only one to offer his services. These services were declined by the master of the vessel, who was himself a licensed pilot for the harbor of New York under the laws of the United States. The steamship was at the time duly enrolled and licensed for the coasting trade under the laws of the United States, and was engaged in trade between Porto Rico and New York. The libel was dismissed by the district court (105 Fed. 74), an appeal taken to the circuit court of appeals, which certified to this court the following questions of law, concerning which it desired instructions:
'1. Since the proclamation of the treaty of peace between the United States and the Kingdom of Spain, and the passage of the act of Congress entitled 'An Act Temporarily to Provide Revenues and a Civil Government for Porto Rico, and for Other Purposes' (approved April 12, 1900), do Porto Rican ports remain foreign ports in the sense in which those words are used in the statutes of the state of New York regulating pilotage?
'2. Are vessels engaged in trade between Porto Rican ports and ports of the United States engaged in the coasting trade in the sense in which those words are used in the statutes of the state of New York regulating pilotage?
'3. Are steam vessels engaged in trade between Porto Rican ports and ports of the United States coastwise steam vessels in the sense in which those words are used in § 4444 of the Revised Statutes of the United States?'
Mr. Wm. Lindsay for appellant.
Messrs. F. Kingsbury Curtis and Wm. Edmond Curtis for appellee.
Mr. Justice Brown delivered the opinion of the court: