Morewood v. Enequist Owner of the Brig Gothland
THIS was an appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for the southern district of New York.
It was a case in admiralty, arising under the following circumstances:
The brig Gothland, owned by Enequist, was chartered by Burt, Myrtle, & Co., of Batavia, to proceed to Padung, on the island of Sumatra, there to receive a quantity of coffee; to return thence to Batavia and complete her cargo, and deliver the same in New York, freight to be paid by the assignees of the bills of lading on delivery of the cargo.
It was admitted that the bills of lading were assigned for value to the appellants, composing the firm of G. B. Morewood & Company.
Enequist first filed a libel in rem against the cargo for the amount of the freight; but after some proceedings which it is not necessary to mention, this action was discontinued, and a libel in personam filed, which is the present case. The respondents alleged that, owing to the neglect of the carrier, the coffee, black pepper, and cassia, were damaged to the amount of $4,720.60, which they claimed as a deduction from the freight. The whole freight claimed was $9,160.56, with interest from April, 1853.
The District Court referred the case to a commissioner, who reported that the freight due in September, 1857, was $11,372.56, for which amount a decree was rendered, with costs.
The case, being carried to the Circuit Court, was there tried on the appeal from the District Court and on additional evidence taken by the respondents. The decree of the District Court was affirmed with costs, and the respondents appealed to this court.
It was submitted on printed arguments by Mr. Dodge and Mr. Johnson for the appellants, and by Mr. Donohue for the appellee.
The counsel for the appellants considered that the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States over an action on contract by a libel in personam in admiralty upon a contract of affreightment was still an open question, and therefore proceeded to argue it. The elaborate arguments against the jurisdiction filed by them, and for it by Mr. Donohue, are omitted by the reporter, in deference to the opinion of the court.
Mr. Justice GRIER delivered the opinion of the court.