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United States Supreme Court

52 U.S. 522

Spear  v.  Place

THIS was an appeal from the District Court of the United States for the State of Texas.

It was a libel filed on the 22d of December, 1848, by Henry Place, master of the steamship Globe, for himself and the other owners of the ship, against the schooner Lucy Ann and cargo, for salvage.

The return of the marshal to the writ of seizure was as follows:--

'Received this writ the 22d day of December, 1848, and executed the same day by seizing the schooner Lucy Ann, her tackle, apparel, and furniture; and on the same day seized certain goods, wares, and merchandise, as per bills and bills of lading hereto attached, and marked No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, as furnished by the owners and consignees of said goods, which said goods I left in the possession of the consignees, first taking their receipts to be delivered when called for.

'JAMES H. COCKE, Marshal,

By H. B. MARTIN, D. Marshal.'On the 29th of December, 1848, Spear intervened, claiming as follows:--

'To the Honorable John C. Watrous, Judge of the District Court of the United States within and for the District of Texas.

'And Arthur Spear, of the State of Maine, intervening for his interest in the schooner Lucy Ann, as well as for the other owners of said schooner, and for the owners and consignees of the cargo thereof, and for all whom it may concern; this respondent, the said Arthur Spear, being master of said schooner, and also owner of an interest of about one fourth therein, appears before this honorable court, and claims the said schooner and her said cargo; and for answer to the libel and complaint of Henry Place, of New Orleans, in the State of Louisiana, against the schooner Lucy Ann, her tackle, apparel, and furniture, and all and singular the goods, wares, and merchandises now or late on board of said schooner, in a cause of salvage, civil and maritime, alleges and articulately propounds, as follows,' &c., &c.

The case having been dismissed by this court, for the want of jurisdiction, it is not necessary to state the circumstances which gave rise to the claim for salvage.

On the 3d of January, 1849, Norman Hurd and E. P. Hunt were ordered by the court to appraise the schooner, her tackle, apparel, and furniture, and also the cargo; who appraised the vessel, &c., at $2,600, and the cargo at $21,325.73, divided amongst several different owners or consignees as follows:--

J. S. Vedder,.............. $ 5,698.00

J. K. Brown,.................... 92.89

Perry & Flint,................. 100.42

Perry & Flint, for Leyles & Co.,. 6.07

Sydnor & Bone,............... 9,113.34

Rice, Adams, & Co., for acc. Sampson & Co.,. 615.21

Rice, Adams, & Co., for their own acc.,. 4,566.11

Rice, Adams, & Co., for Rice & Nichols,.__1,133.69 ___

$21,325.73

On the 30th of January, 1849, the District Court passed the following decree:--

'This cause having been heard by the court upon the pleadings and proofs, and the court being now sufficiently advised in the premises, and it appearing to the satisfaction of the court that the schooner Lucy Ann and cargo, now before the court libelled against in this cause are of the value of $23,925.73, to wit, said schooner being of the value of $2,600, and said cargo of the value of $21,325.73, and the same was, on the 18th day of December, 1848, saved from entire loss and destruction by means of assistance rendered by the steamship Globe, whereof Henry Place was master, and Charles Morgan, John T. Wright, Henry Morgan, and C. Harris, owners; it is therefore ordered, adjudged, and decreed by the court, that the libellants, Henry Place, Charles Morgan, John T. Wright, Henry Morgan, and C. Harris, have and recover in full satisfaction for their salvage the one fifth part of the aforesaid gross amount of the aforesaid value of said schooner and cargo, to wit, the sum of $4,785.14, and that said schooner and cargo be, and the same are hereby, charged with and subjected to the payment of said amount of salvage; the said schooner to be charged with the payment of the sum of $520 thereof, and the said cargo to be charged with the payment of the sum of $4,265.14 thereof. And it is further ordered, adjudged, and decreed, that said schooner Lucy Ann, her tackle, apparel, and furniture, be condemned, and that the same be sold by the marshal of this district for the payment of said sum of $520 so assessed thereon as aforesaid, and that said cargo be condemned, and that the same be sold by the marshal of this district, for the payment of said sum of $4,235.14 so assessed as aforesaid, and that the proceeds of said schooner and cargo be brought into court to abide the further order of this court herein. And it is further ordered, adjudged, and decreed, that said sales take place on the 24th day of February, 1849, after giving ten days' notice of the time and place of sale, and that all costs and charges in this cause be taxed upon and paid out of the balance of the proceeds of said schooner and cargo after the payment of the aforesaid amount of salvage, unless Arthur Spear, the respondent, shall immediately pay the same into court.

'By agreement of the libellants in this cause, by their proctors, made in open court, it is ordered, adjudged, and decreed by the court, that the sum of $4,785.14, decreed to be paid to the libellants in said cause, be distributed, apportioned, and paid to the libellants in proportions as follows, to wit, to Henry Place, the master of the steamship Globe, the sum of $250, and to Charles Morgan, John T. Wright, Henry Morgan, and C. Harris, the owners of the steamship Globe, the sum of $4,535.14.

From this decree the claimant appealed to this court.

Afterwards the District Court allowed the vessel and cargo to be released, upon payment into court of the amount decreed for salvage and costs.

It was argued by Mr. Walker, for the appellants, and Mr. Coxe, for the appellee.

Mr. Coxe raised the question of jurisdiction as follows.

So far as regards the cargo, the interests of the owners are not properly represented, as has been intimated; as the vessel was bound to Galveston, the presumption is, that the owners or consignees were there.

The principle of law applicable in such case is, that where the principal is without the country, or resides at a great distance from the court, the admission of a claim and test affidavit by his agent is the common course of the admiralty; but where the principal is within a reasonable distance, something more than a formal affidavit is expected; at least a suppletory oath of the principal should be tendered. 9 Cranch, 244. See also Dunlap's Adm. Pr. 161, 162; The Sally, 1 Gallis. 401; The St. Lawrence, 1 Gallis. 467.

Captain Spear, then, if entitled to make any claim in the case, could only represent the vessel, and had no title whatever to represent the cargo; and as the decree of the District Court only affected the vessel to the amount of $520, the amount in controversy is not sufficient to give this court jurisdiction. Stratton v. Jarvis, 8 Peters, 4; The Warren, 6 Peters, 143; Act of March 3, 1803, c. 40 (2 Stat. at Large, 244).

The appraisement shows that the cargo belonged to several parties, and that there were also several consignees. These interests were entirely distinct; no one represented a sufficient amount to entitle him to appeal to this court. Stratton v. Jarvis, 8 Peters, 4.

Mr. Justice WOODBURY delivered the opinion of the court.

NotesEdit

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).