Sun Printing Publishing Association v. Moore

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

183 U.S. 642

Sun Printing Publishing Association  v.  Moore

 Argued: October 24, 25, 1901. --- Decided: January 13, 1902

The yacht Kanapaha, the property of the respondent Moore, was let on April 1, 1898, for the term of two months, by a charter party, in which Chester S. Lord was recited to be the hirer, but which was signed by him as follows: 'Chester S. Lord, for The Sun Printing & Publishing Association.' At the time Mr. Lord was, and for many years prior thereto had been, the managing editor of the Sun newspaper, and had special charge of the collection of news for the Sun Printing & Publishing Association, the publisher of the newspaper aforesaid. We shall hereafter speak of this corporation as the Sun Association, and of the newspaper as the Sun.

In the body of the charter party the hirer agreed to furnish security, and contemporaneously with the execution of the contract a paper was signed, which is described in the body thereof as the 'understanding or agreement of suretyship' required by the charter party. This paper recited on its face that it was made by 'the Sun Printing & Publishing Association,' and it also was signed by Lord exactly as he had signed the charter party. Before the time fixed in the charter party had expired, that is to say, about the middle of May, 1898, a second charter party and a second agreement of suretyship were executed. These agreements were substantially identical with the previous ones, except they provided for a new term to begin at the expiration of the previous one and to continue for four months thereafter, that is, up to October 1, 1898.

On the execution of the first papers the yacht was delivered to the Sun Association, was by it immediately manned, equipped, and provisioned, and one or more of its reporters were placed on board with authority to direct the movements of the vessel, and she was sent to Cuban waters, to be used as a despatch boat for the purpose of gathering news concerning the events connected with the hostilities between the United States and Spain.

Early in September, 1898, the yacht was wrecked, and became a total loss. For a breach of an alleged covenant to return the vessel, asserted to be contained in the charter party, this libel in personam was filed against the Sun Association, and the damages were averred to be the value of the vessel, which it was alleged was fixed by the charter party at the sum of $75,000. The district court held that the writings were contracts of the Sun Association through Lord, its authorized agent, and were virtually one agreement; that by them that corporation was responsible for the nonreturn of the ship, whether or not the vessel had been lost by the fault of its agents or employees; and that there was a liability to pay the value of the vessel as fixed by the charter. Construing the two writings as a whole, this value, it was held, was subject to be diminished by the extent of the charter hire, paid when the charter party was executed. A judgment was entered for the sum of $65,000, with interests and costs. 95 Fed. 485. On appeal the circuit court of appeals coincided with the district court except it disapproved the conclusion that the value of the vessel should be reduced by the sum of the charter hire. The decree of the district court was reversed, and the cause remanded with instructions to enter a decree for $75,000, with interest and costs. 41 C. C. A. 506, 101 Fed. 591. The case was then brought here by certiorari.

Messrs. James Russell Soley and Franklin Bartlett for petitioner.

Messrs. George Zabriskie and J. Archibald Murray for respondent.

Mr. Justice White, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court:


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).