NOTES OF CURRENT DECISIONS
UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT.
Limited Liability of Ship-Owners. NATIONAL STEAM NAV. Co. 'V. DYER and others; DYER and others 'V.NATIONAL STEAM NAV. Co. These were appeals taken from the circuit of the United States for the eastern district of New York, and were decided at the October term of the supreme court. The steam-ship Scotland, belonging to the National Steam Navigation Company, a corporation of Great Britain, on the high seas ran into the American ship Kate Dyer. The Kate Dyer immediately sank, and ship and cargo were totally lost. The steam-ship suffered so severely from the collision that she sank also, and became a total loss, with, the exception of some material got from her by the coast wrecking company before she went down. Libels in pelwonam were filed in the district court for the eastern district of New York against the steam navigation company by the owners of the Kate Dyer, the Peruvian government, owner of her cargo of guano; and by a passenger and some of the crew who lost certain effects by the sinking of the ship. Personal service of process not being obtainable, the marshal attached another vessel belonging to the company, which was duly claimed and released on stipulation, and the steam-ship company appeared and responded, admitting the collision, but denying that the steam-ship was in fault, and alleging "that there is no liability in personam against these respondents for said loss of the Kate Dyer." Proofs being taken the district , court rendered a decree in favor of libellants, which, on appeal to the circuit court, was substantially affirmed. On the trial in the circuit court the respondents, besides contesting the questions of fault and general liability, again insisted upon the benefit of the lim_ ited liability law. The circuit court refused any relief grounded on the lim.. ited liability law, but made a decree against the respondents for the total amount of damages sustained ):Iy the va:rious in inte:res.t,to respondents excepted, and both parties appealed from the decree; aPP(ja\<>f the libellants being based on a supposed erroneous conclusion ()fth''iO.U;1't)n reference to interest, and the estimation of the value of the catgo. . Mr. Justice Bradley delivered the opinion oithe court, on thet:wentieth of March, 1882. The limited liability act of 1851, reproduced in
Statutes in section 4283, applies to owners of foreign as well as domestic vessels, and to acts done on the high seas as well as in waters of the United States, except when a collision occurs between two vessels of the same foreign nation, or perhaps of two foreign nations having the same maritime law. The maritime law of the United States, as found in the statute, is the same as the general maritime law of Europe, and is different from that of Great Britain in this: that the former gauges the liability by the value of the ship and freight after the loss or injury, and the latter by their value before the loss or injury, not exceeding £15 per ton. The maritime law is only so far operative as law in any country as it is adopted by the laws and usages of that countty. The principles laid down on this subject in Norwich Co. v. Wright, 13 Wall. 116, and in The Lottawanlla, 21 Wall. 558, reasserted and affirmed. The courts of every country will administer justice according to its laws, unless a different law be shown to apply; and this rule applies to transactions taking place on the high seas. If a collision occur on the high seas between two vessels, controversies arising therefrom will be governed in the courts of this couutry'bY our laws, unless the two colliding ships belong to the same foreign country, or, perhaps, to different countries using the same law, 'when they will be goveraed by the laws of the country to which they belong. Ship-owners may avail themselves of the defence of limited responsibility by answer or plea, as well as by the form of proceeding prescribed by the rules of this court; at least, so far as to obtain protection against the libellants or plaintiffs in the suit. Those rules were not intended to restrict them, but to aid them in bringing into concourse those having claims against them arising from the acts of the master or crew'. If the owners plead the statute, a decree may be made requiring them to pay into court the limited amount for which, they are liable, and distributing said amount pro rata among the parties claiming damages. Such a proceeding in a court of admiralty would be an "appropriate proceeding" under the statute. It is not necessary that ship-owners should surrender and transfer the ship in order to claim the benefit of the law. That is only one mode of relief. They may plead their immunity, and, if found in or confessing fault, may abide a decree against them for the value of the ship and freight as found by the proofs. The rule of damages. in case of goods lost or destroyed on the high seas by the fault of those in charge, is the price or value of the goods at the place of shipment, with all charges of lading, insurance, and transportation, and interest at 6 per cent. per annum, but without any allowance for anticipated profits. When the goods have no market value at the place of shipmeJ1t, resort may be had to other means of ascertaining their actual value, such as the price which they usually bring at the port of destinatioll, with a fair deduction for profits and charges. William Allen Butler, Jolm Chetwood, and Thomas E. Stillman, for the owners of the Scotland. James C. Carter, for the owners of the Kate Dyer and her cargo, master, and crew, and a passenger. . , The cases cited in the .opinion were: The Norwich. Co. v. Wright. 13 WalL 116; The Rebecca, Ware, 187; 'fhe Lottawanna, 21 Wall. 558; The Vaughan v. The Charming 2 Cranch, 64; and Telegraph, 14 Wall. 258;
1l0TES OF DECISIONS.
'rhe Anna Maria, 2 Wheat. 327; The Amiable NancY,3 Wheat. 546; Smith v. CoudrY,l How. 28; Williamson v. Barrett, 13 How. 101 ; The Nuestra Signora de los Dolores, 1 Dods. 297; The Carl Johan,l Hagg. 113; The Giro. lamo, 3 Hagg. 186; The Zollverein, Swabey, 96; Cope v. Doherty, 4 Kay & J. 367; S. C.4 JUl'. (N. S.) 451; S. C. on App. Id. 391, 699; The Gen. 1. S. C. Co. v. Schurmanns, 1 Johns. & H. 193; The Wild Ranger,l Lush. 553; 9 JUl'. (N. S.) 134.
see n, MlJr14 IItt" Ell:ea&.lh, IInl', 520.
Insurance on Life of Another. WARNOOK 'D. DAVIS and others, 4 Morr. Traus. 93. Error to the circuit court of the United States for the southern district of Ohio. This was an action brought by an administrator of a deceased person who had taken out a policy of insurance en his life, against the Scioto Trust Association of Portsmouth, Ohio. At the time of taking out the policy he entered into an agreement with the trust association whereby it was agreed that he should assign the policy to the association, rellerving for his disposition one-tenth of the amount; the association to keep up and maintain the insurance at their expense. The case was tried by the court without a jUry. On the trial the plaintiff gave in evidence the deposition of the receiver of the insurance company, who produced from papers in his custody the policy of insurance, the agreement and mentioned, the proofs presented of the death of the insured, and the receipt by the trust association for the insurance money. No other testimony was offered. :Th.e court thereupon found for the defendants, to which finding plaintiff excepted. Judgment being rendered in favor of defendants the case was brought to the supreme court for review, and the decision rendered on the sixth of March, 1882, Mr. Justice Field delivering the opinion of the court: An insurable interest in the life of another is such an interest, arising from the relations of the party obtaining the insurance, either as creditor of or surety for the assured, or from ties of blood or marriage,as will justify·a reasonable expectation of advantage or benefit from the continuance of his life. An insurance policy on the life of another, by one not having such an interest, is a wager policy, and void. An assignment of a policy to a party not having an insurable interest,whether of the whole, or a portion merely, of the insurance money, is valid only to the extent of loans or advances made on account of it, or the premiums paid on its security; but so far as it attempts to assign any surplus, is void as a direct insurancewouid be, and is equally objectionable as a wager policy. If, under color of such assignment, the assignee collects the money due on such a policy, the assignor or his representatives may recover the amount so collected, less any loans or advances, and the rule of par delictum does not apply to such a case. F. B. Foraker, for plaintiff in error. A. C. 'rhompson. for defendants in error. The cases cited in the opinion were: St. John v. Amer. Mul;. L. Ins. Co. 13 N. Y. 31; Valton v. National Loan Fund Life Assu. Co. 20 N. Y. 32; v. Ashley, 3 Simons, 149; Cammack v. Lewis, 15 Wall. 643.