24 U.S. 429
6 L.Ed. 511
11 Wheat. 429
CHACE and Others, Appellants, against VASQUEZ, the
Consul General of Portugal, Respondent.
February 15, 1826
APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Maryland.
The libel in this case was in personam against the owners of the private armed vessel La Fortuna, stated to be owned by American citizens, for the recovery of damages for the illegal seizure, &c. of the Portuguese ship Monte Alegre and cargo, which, by a previous decree of the Court, had been restored to the libellants, no damages having been claimed in the libel in rem.a A decree pro forma was taken for the libellants in the Circuit Court, and Commissioners were ordered to be appointed to assess the damages; but the appeal was taken before the Commissioners were appointed, upon the ground that no libel could be sustained in personam in such cases.
Mr. D. Hoffman, for the respondent, stated, that the appeal might be considered as well taken. The case of the Palmyrab was distinguishable from this, as the damages there claimed were a part only of an entire decree in rem and in personam; but that here the sole inquiry is, whether any libel in personam could be sustained, which was an objection that covered the whole libel, and the entire decree; that, although the report of the Commissioners, when made, might be appealed from, yet the inquiry was only as to the amount; and that if no libel could be sustained, an expensive and tedious investigation would be saved, by first establishing the point that a libel in personam cannot be sustained in such cases.
The COURT were of opinion, that the case was embraced by the principle decided in the case of the Palmyra, since an appeal would still lie from the damages when ascertained; but, that, had the decree of the Circuit Court dismissed the libel, such decree would have been final.