GOODRICH TkANSPORTA'riON CO.
was not the case of a vessel undergoing ordinary repairs. The' injury which the De Bmett had sustained was unusual, and most serious; and all the circumstances of the case were peculiar and extraordir.ary. S6 disabled was the boat that she was absolutely incapable of running. The dealings,of the parties here, even in the absence of express stipulation, could be fairly referred only to a steam-boat 'at least reasonably fit to be navigated. But in view of the clause of the policy hereinbefore quoted, the case need not be rested upon a mere implication; for if insurance was effected here. it must be regarded as having been made upon the terms and conditions expressed in said clause, whether the libelant stands on an executed policy or upon an agreement' for insurance. In8'U/ramceCo. v. Robinson. 56 Pa. St. 256. That clause stipulated that the steam·boat was "tight and sound," and that she was "competently prpvided with master, officers, and crew, and in all other things and means necessary for the safe navigation thereof." But as the boat did not fulfill any ofthese terms and conditions, and the real facts were concealed from the defendant, the libelant's case must fail, even were it otherwise good. Let a decree be drawn dismissing the libel, with costs.
GOODRICH TRANSPORTATION CO. v. GAGNON et ale
(Circuit Oourt, E. D. WiBcon8in. August 18,1888.
SHIPPING-LIABILITY OF OWNER FOR TORT-LIMITATION-REV. tit.
U. S. § 4283. Act Congo March 3. 1851, (Rev. St. U. S. § 4283,) limits the liability of shipQwners to their interest in the vessel and its pending freight, "for any embezzlement. loss, or destruction by any person, of any property, goods, or merchandise shipped or put oli board of such vessel, or for any loss. damage, or injury by collision, or for any act, matter, or thing, loss, damage, or forfeiture done. occasioned, or incurred withont the privity or knowledge of such owner or owners." Held, that the words, "for any act, matter, or thing, loss, damage, or forfeiture done, occasioned. or incurred," must be construed with regard to the subject-matter of the statute, and refer onty to such acts, things, losses, and damages as to which relief can be had in a court of admiralty, and do not include liability for the destruction of buildings and goods on the land by fire alleged to have been communicated by a vessel, though duly licensed and ene;ae;ed in the coast trade.
In Equity. On motion tt) dissolve injunction. Ohas. W. Bunn and Robert Rae, for plaintiff. Geo. G. Greene and J. G. Jenkins, for defendants. Before HARLAN, Justice, and DYER, J. Mr. Justice HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court. On and prior to the 20th day of September, 1880, the Goodrich Transportation Company, a corporation organized under the laws was engaged in interstate commerce upon Lake Michigan, as well as upon
navigable waters immediately connected therewith; employing, in that business, a number of propellers and steam-boats, of which it was the owner. Among such steam-boats was the Oconto, a vessel of upwards, of 20 tons burden, duly enrolled and licensed, under the laws of the United States, for the coasting trade, and not being, it is alleged, a canalboat, barge, or lighter, nor used in river or inland navigation. On the day above named, and while prosecuting one of its regular voyages from Chicago, it entered the port of Green Bay, a city in the state of Wisconsin, at the head of Green Bay, where the Fox river, a large, navigable stream, flows into it. After it had passed a certain planing-mill, located within the limits of that city, a fire broke out therein, which was communicated -:-from the vessel, as was contended-to a large number of buildings near the shore, causing damage to their owners in the sum of not less than $125,000, and destroying goods and other property contained therein of not less than $50,000. A part of the property so destroyed was insured against fire in the Phrenix Insurance Company. The value of the Oconto, at the tiJV.e of the fire, was about $12,000. The amount of its freight then pending was only about $400. Some of the sufferers by the fire, claiming' that the damage to their property was the result of negligence upon the part of those managing the Oconto, instituted suits against the Goodrich Transportation Company in the courts of Wisconsin. Suits of like character being threatened by others, that company sought, by libel filed in the district court of the United States for the Eastern district of Wisconsin, sitting in admiralty, not only to contest its liability for the damage done, but to have its liability, if any existed, limited· as provided in those sections of the Revised Statutes ofthe United States which contain, substantially, the provisions of the act of congress approved March 3, 1851, entitled" An act to limit the liability of ship-owners, and for other purposes." 9 S1. 635; Rev. St. §§ 4282-4289,inclusive. The district court of the United States having denied a )1lotion to dismiss the proceedings instituted therein by the transportation compapy, (26 Fed. Rep. 713,) and having made an order designating appraisers to valuE,! the Oconto at the time of the fire, as well as its freight earned on the voyage, the insurimce company and the plaintiffs who brought the suits for damages in the state court united in an application to the supreme court of the United States for a writ of prohibitionto the judge of the former court, to prevent it from entertaining jurisdiction of the suit brought by the transportation company for limitation of its liability. The writ was awarded, the supreme court holding that the district court was without jurisdiction in the premises. It was held, in conformity with the decision in The Plymouth, 3 Wall. 20, that "the true meaning of the rule of locality in cases of marine torts was that the wrong complained of must have been committed wholly on navigable waters, or, at the substance and consummation of the same must have taken· place. upon those waters,to be within the admiralty jurisdiction;" that,although the vessel which communicated the fire 'was a maritime instrument, the jurisdiction of the admiralty court
GOODRICH TRANSPORTATION CO. 'Ii. GAGNON.
upon the wrong haying been committed on navigable waters and that substantial cause of action, arising out of the wrong, must be complete within the locality on which the jurisdiction depended;" that the remedy for wrongs not committed on navigable waters was in the courts of common law; and since. for these reasons, a court of admiralty would have no jurisdiction of a suit either in rem or in per8cmam, brought by a sufferer from the fire in question to recover damages from the owner of the vessel, that court could not acquire jurisdiction to determine the question of the owner's liability, or to ascertain and award damages, by a proceeding such as the transportation company instituted. But the court said: "
"Ourdecision against the jurisdiction of the district court is made without deciding whether or not the' statutory limitation of liability extends to the damages sustained by fire in question. so as to be enforceable in an appropriate court of competent jqrisdiction. The decision of that question is unnecessary for the disposition of this case." Ex parte Insurance 00., 118 U. S. 610. 618. 625. 7 Sup. Ct. Rep. 25. .
The question thus reserved is supposed to be raised by the present suit in equity, brought originally in 'the circuit court of Milwaukee county, Wisconsin. The plaintiff is the Goodrich Transportation Company. The defendants, except the insurance company, are sufferers by the above-mentioned fire, and have suits pending in the courts of Wisconsin, in which they seekto recover damages for the destruction of their buildings and goods by such fire. The bill also proceeds generally against" all persons interested, who may come in 'lUder the decree herein, and take the benefit thereof." It sets out, in substance, the above facts, and prays that the liability of the plaintiff for the damages in said several suits claimed may be adjudged to be limited to the value of the vessel at the time of the fire, increased by the value of its then pending freight; that the de,mands of the several claimants· be investigated, and their respective amounts ordered to be paid out of the value of the vessel and freight, which amount the plaintiff offered to bring into court, or give bond ,thE;lrefor; that, if such value be inadequate for their payment in full, the claimants be satisfied pro rata out of such fund; that upon such payment the plaintiff be adjudged to be discharged from all further liability to the defendants, and to each of them, on account of said fire;. that the defendants be enjoined from the further prosecntion of their suits at law in the courts of Wisconsin; and that the plaintiff have such other relief as may be proper. The state court, upon bond being given to pay the value of the vessel and pending freight into court for distribution, awarded the injunction asked. The defendants having answered, the suit was removed into this court upon the general ground that it is one arising under the laws of the United States. \ injun.cThe case is now befOl:,e the court upon a motion to dissolve tion. This motion suggests several questions ofimportance, which have by the counsel of the respective parties with marked. .been ability. But the fundamental inquiry is whether the statutory limita·
tion liability extendeat an. tbtbe fire i·n c qllElstion,......,.aliability which, according. m the· principIes ilinnounced in Ex parte Inmrance Co.', can'not be ascertained and limited: by any proceedings had in the admiralty courts.' The .contention Of theplnihtiffis that the statute embraces all liabilty for damage done;by :a vessel without the knowledge or privity of the owner, ,whether the injury is consummated on land or water, and without regard to the nature'of.theproperty injured, or the uses to which it was; devoted when dffitroyed','orite connection with the general business in which the vessel engagad. It is arguyd that the object of the rule of limited liability is to promote and encourage shipping, and that the authority of congress to prescribe such a rule, in place of the absolute one of respondeat 8U'perior, to, bel enforced in all courts,state and federal, is found in its power, under ,the constitution, to regulate commerce power which, it with foreign nations and betweeh the several is insi$ted, includes not oItlyauthority to regulate navigation and traffic generally, and the ships and vessels employed as instruments of commerce, ,but the liability of their 'owners arising from the use of such instruments in' commerce. In behalf of the defendants it is contended that regulations as to liability for the destruction of property not in its nature maritime, nor in its use connected with commerce, constitute an essential part of the police power ,of the state, the proper exercise of which is "italto the protection of the lives and property of its people; and that, even if Wbe competent for congress, under its general power to regulate commerce, to supersede or annul state laws upon the same general subject, so far as the latter apply to injuries done by vessels while navigating public waters, there is nothing in the statutes invoked by the plaintiff clearly indicating that congress intended to go that far, or to prescribe anytule of liability, except for the special cases which, under the statute, are cognizable in a court of admiralty. It was conceded in argument that, if the property of the defendants had been destroyed by a fire caused by the negligence of individual or corporate persons not engaged in navigating the waters in question, the latter would have been liable, under the settled law of Wisconsin, to respond in damages for the value of the property destroyed. So that, if the present proceeding to ascertain and limit the liability of the plaintiff to the actual value of the vessel Oconto and her pending freight is sustained, it can only be upon the broad grounds suggested by the learned counsel of the plaintiff. Section 4282 exempts the owner of any vessel from liability for damage done by fire-not caused by his design or neglect-"to any merchandise Whatsoever, which shall be shipped, taken in, or put on board any such vessel." Section 4283 makes the value of the owner's interest in any vessel, and of its pending freight, the limit of his liability" for any embezzlement, loss, or destruction, by any person, of any property, goods, or merchandise shipped or put on 'board of such vessel, or for any loss, damage, or injury by collision, or for any act, matter, or thing, loss, damage, or forfeiture done, occasioned, or incurred, 'without the privity or knowledge of such owner or owners."
GOODRICH TRA.NSPORTATION CO.
As to section 4289, declaring that the foregoing and other provisions in the title of" Commerce and Navigation" shall not apply to the owners of canal-boats, barges, or lighters, nor to vessels of any description used "in rivers or inland navigation," it has no bearing upon the present case; for the Oconto .was not a canal-boat, barge, or lighter, nor was the navigation in which it was engaged" inland" within the meaning of the statute. Moorev. Transportation 00., 24 How. 1; The War Eagle, 6 Biss. 364. See, also, The Mamie, 5 Fed. Rep. 813; The Beara, 8 Fed. Rep. 365; The Garden City, 26 Fed. Rep. 766. Recurring to the sections of the Revised Statutes which must control our decision, it is clear that the plaintiff's case requires the court to hold that congress intended the words, "for any act, matter, or thing, loss, damage, or forfeiture done, occasioned, or incurred," to include all damage tO,or destruction of, property of every kind OIl land, although unconnected with navigation or commerce, provided only that such damage or destrm;tion was caused by the neglect of those in control of the vessel while it is actually employed in navigating the public waters of the United States. It does not seem to the court that the statutory provisions in question ought to be so construed. The general words above quoted should be interpretE:ld in the light of the subject-matter of the statute, and must be restricted by the special words previously used in the same and preceding sections. The enumeration ofacts, things, losses, damages done or occasioned, are those of admiralty jurisdiction, according to the maritime law of the United States. The specific provision made for the distribution of the proCeeds of the value of the offending vessel and its freight among the owners of property embezzled, lost, or destroyed, on the voyage of the offending vessel, has reference to such persons or owners only as can maintain an action, civil and maritime, in the admiralty colirts, on account of such embezzlement, loss, or destruction of property. In other words, the losses, with respect to which congress de-· signed, in the interest of commerce, to extend the privilege of limited liability, are maritime losses. The acts, matters, things, losses, damages, and forfeitures referred to in section 4283 are those belonging to the classes specifically described in the context; that is, they must be acts, matters, things, losses, damages, or forfeitures done, occasioned, or incurred in such manner that it may be said that the substance and consummation of the particular wrong or wrongs complained of took place and became complete on the waters navil?:ated by the offending vessel. That cannot be said in reference to the losses here in dispute. We do not believe that it was within the mind of congress to establish a rule of limited liability to be applied by all courts, federal and state, for injuries done without the privity or knowledge of its owner, by those in charge of a vessel, to property on land, and in respect to which injuries the courts of admiralty could not take cognizance. Although this prp,cise point has not been determined by the supreme (lourt of the United States, the conclusion reached is in harmony with what that court has said in reference to the general scope and purpose
of the statutes under examination. In Norwich v. Wright, 13 Wall. 104, 123, the court, after observing that no tribunal was better adapted than a court of admiralty to administer the relief given by the statute, and that it was every-day practice for such courts to distribute the proceeds of a vessel or other fund, according to the respective liens and rights of the parties, said: .
"Congress might have invested the circuit courts of the United States with the jurisdiction of such cases by bill in equity, but it did not. It is also evident that the state courts have not the reqUisite jurisdiction. Unless, therefore, the district courts themselves can administer the law, we are reduced to the dilemma of inferring that the legislature has passed a law which is incapable of executiun...
So in Steam-Ship Co. v. Manufacturing Co., 109 U. S. 578,593, 3 Sup. Ct. Rep. 379, 617, the court, after referring to the acts of 1792, (1 St. 276,) 1828, (4 St. 280,) and 1842, (5 St. 518,) as giving power to make the supplementary rules of practice in admiralty, promulgated May 6, 1872, (13 Wall. xii., xiii.,) said that the subject of those rules "is one preeminently of admiralty jurisdiction. The rule of limited liability prescribed by the act of 1851 is nothing more than the old maritime rule administered in courts of admiralty in all countries except England from time immemorial; and, if this were not so, the subject-matter itself is one that belongs to the department of maritime law." Upon the whole case, the court is of opinion that the act of congress prescribing the rule of limited liability for the benefit of the owners of ships and vessels has reference only to maritime losses in respect to which relief can be given in a courtof admiralty. In this view, it is immaterial to inquire whether an act having the scope and effect attributed by the plaintiff to that of 1851 would be constitutional. The present motion to dissolve the injunction having been heard before Judge DYER and myself, this opinion has been submitted to him, since his retirement from the bench, for examination. Reauthorizes me to say that it meets his approval. The injunction is dissolved.
AMES v. HAGER.
(Oircuie Oourl, N. D. California. September 17, 1888.)
NATIONAL COURTS-CASES 'ARISING UNDER REVENUE LAwS,-JURISDICTIONAL AMOUNT.
Clause 4, § 629, Rev. St.. was not repealed by the act of March 3, 1875; (18 St. 470,) or by the act of March 3. 1887, (24 St. 552,) defining the jurisdiction of the circuit courts, and these courts have jurisdiction in suits arising under revenue laws, although the amount in dispute is less than $2,000. . (Syllabu8 by the CourtS '