Boyd v. Moses
THIS was an action in personam, brought originally in the District Court for the Southern District of New York, by the libellants against the appellants, to recover a balance due upon a charter-party. The District Court rendered a decree dismissing the libel. The Circuit Court for the district reversed that decree, and rendered a decree for the libellants. From this last decree an appeal was taken to this court.
The charter-party was executed in July, 1862, at the city of New York, in the harbor of which city the ship then lay. The voyage stipulated was to be from New York to Havre, with a cargo of lawful merchandise, which the charterers were to provide. The ship was to be tight, stanch, strong, and every way fitted for the voyage. She was to load 'under inspection,' and to 'go consigned to charterers' friends.'
The cargo furnished by the charterers consisted principally of grain, lard, and tallow. The grain, which was partly in bulk and partly in bags, was stored in the hold. A portion of the lard was stored between decks. By the leaking of this lard a part of the wheat in the hold was damaged, and the question was, whether the damage should be borne by the owners or the charterers of the ship. It was charged to the ship at Havre, and paid by the consignees, who collected the freight, and its amount was withheld by them from the charter-money. The present action was by the owners against the charterers of the ship for the balance thus withheld.
When the lard was brought to the ship to be taken on board it was leaking from the casks in which it was packed. It appeared to be mostly in a liquid state, and the stevedore having charge of the loading refused without the consent of the master to receive it, and store it between decks,-the only part of the vessel not then occupied by merchandise. He was apprehensive that in its liquid state, leaking from the casks, it would penetrate through the deck and damage the wheat in the hold. The master, to whom the matter was referred, also refused to take it, and informed the charterers that he could not receive it unless they gave him an agreement to hold the ship harmless. They thereupon wrote to him a letter stating that they understood he objected to their shipping lard between the decks of the ship, requesting him to receive it, and agreeing to pay any damages which he or the ship might be subjected to on the discharge of the cargo at Havre, arising from the stowage of the lard between decks, and its running on any other part of the cargo. Upon the receipt of this letter the master consented to take the lard, and it was stowed between decks. There were between three and four hundred casks, and the lard was leaking from nearly all of them. The weather was unusually hot during the time the ship was receiving cargo, so that it became necessary to relieve the stevedores by extra men, and on some days they could not work at all. The weather continued warm during the greater part of the voyage, which lasted over a month. Upon the discharge of the cargo twenty-six casks were found entirely empty, and three hundred and twenty-seven partly empty. The decks were covered with lard in a liquid state, being in some places two or three inches deep, which had destroyed the pitch in the seams and rotted the oakum, and had dripped through and injured a large quantity of the wheat in the hold.
There was no dispute as to the extent of the damage thus produced. As already stated, the question was upon whom should the damage fall, the charterers or the owners of the ship?
The consignees of the ship at Havre were designated by the charterers as their friends, pursuant to the stipulations of the charter-party, and acted as their agent, and not for the master, in collecting the freight.
Mr. E. C. Benedict, for the appellants; Mr. E. H. Owen, contra.
Mr. Justice FIELD, after stating the facts of the case, delivered the opinion of the court, as follows: