REPORTE:a"vol. 39. N4.V:IGAZIONE GENERAI,E ITALIAN,,\..
E. D. New
SHIPPING':-DAMAGE TO FREIGHT.
A bin of lading exempting the vessel owners from liability for "damage done by vermin" does not exonerate them from responsibility for injuries by rats, from their negligence in omitting to fumigate theship before loading, and the burden of proving that the injuries were not the result of such negligence is on the owners. '
N or will a further clause, the owners from liability for any fault of the officers or crew in the management of the ship, relieve them, as only mismanagement while the goods are on board is intended to be covered .thereby, and not negligence occurring before the freight is placed in the custody of the master and mariners.
It is immaterial that the bilI of lading was executed before the neglect to fumigate the ship occurred, or that it was executed upon the delivery of the goods to a vessel other than the one in which the damage occurred; it being contemplated by the bill of lading that the goods should be transhipped in a different vessel from that in which the voyage began.
In Admiralty. Libel for damages. Julian B. Shope, (Chas. Stewart Davison, of counsel,) for libelant. Ullo, Ruebsamen &- Hubbe, (Lorenzo Ullo, of counsel,) for respondent. BENEDICT, J. This is an action brought against the owners of the Italian steam-ship Independente to recover for damage caused by rats to tain goods shipped in Shanghai, on board the steamer Gilslund, for transportation to New York. According to provisions in the bill of lading, the goods were transported in the Gilsland from Shanghai to Hong Kong. From Hong Kong they were transported to Palermo, in the kingdom of Italy; as is understood in some other steamer belonging to the respondents. At Palermo the goods were reshipped on the steamer Independente, owned by the respondents, and in her transported to New York. Upon delivery in New York, or shortly thereafter, the goods were found to be damaged by rats, and also by sea-water. It is the damage by rats alone which is involved in this case, the other damage having been paid by the underwriters. There is no direct proof in the case to show when the damage by rats occurred, but, inasmuch as the bill of lading given in Shanghai described the goods as "shipped in good order," the presumption is that the damage' on the Independente during the voyage fropl Palermo to New York., The question in the ca$eis whether, under the bill oflading sued, on,the pf the Independente are liable for :damage by rats occurring .011 her voyage from Palermo to New York. Several stipulations in'the bill of lading are relied upon by the respondents as exempting them from liability. One ofthese stipulations is "damage by vermin excepted." This exemption covers damage by rats. But such an exception, as was decided by Mr. Justice BLATCHFORD in the case of The
STEVENS II. NAVIGAZIONE GENERALE ITALIANA.
I8abella, 8 Ben. 139, does not avail to relieve the ship-owner in a. case where, as is the fact here, "no evidence is given to show any care or precaution taken to guard against damage by rats." According to the decision refArred to, and which should be followed here, the fact of damage by rats is to be regarded as prima facie evidence of negligence, in the absence of any explanation or proof of care. The liability of the respondents for the damage in qnestion is undoubted, therefore, unless they are relieved by another stipulation in the bill of lading, which is as follows: "Damage or loss * * * from any act, neglect, or default of the pilot, master, or mariners in the navigation or management of the ship * * * excepted." This is an express stipulation confined by its terms to liability for negligent acts or omissions on the part of the pilot, or of the master, or of the mariners of the ship, occurring in the navigation or management of the ship; aud, as it seems to me, by necessary implication confined to acts or omissions occurring while the goods are on board the ship, where they are, in a certain sense, in the custody or under the control of the master, pilot, and mariners of the ship. It cannot, in my opinion, be held to exempt ship-owners from negligent acts or omissions which, although they may affect goods tnereafter shipped, occur before the goods are by shipment placed in the custody of the master, pilot, or mariners of the ship. If this be the proper understanding of the exception in question, it has no effect to relieve the Ship-owners from liability for the neglect which caused the damage in question, namely, the neglect to fumigate the ship; for fumigation must always be performed prior to the shipment of cargo. In the case of Steel v. Steam-Ship Co., L. R. 3 App. Cas. 72, a clause similar in many respects to the one under consideration was held by the English courts ineffective to exempt the ship for neglect occurring prior to the execution of the bill of lading, and the principle of the decision seems applicable to the present case, although this bill of lading was signed in Shanghai, and the neglect to fumigate the Independente occurred subseqnently in Palermo; for the bill of lading contemplated a reshipment of the goods at Palermo into a different ship from that in which they were shipped in Shanghai, and for a distinct voyage. The contract provided for severa] distinct voyages in different ships, and, although a single bill of lading was issued, the legal effect, so far as the exceptive clauses are concerned, is the same as if a separate bill of lading had been issued upon each shipment of the goods upon a different ship for a different My conclusion, therefore, is that, notwithstanding the exceptions in the bill of lading, the respondent is liable for the damage by rats discovered upon the landing of the goods from the Independente in New York. In arriving at this conclusion I have not considered the effect of the Italian law. The bill of lading states that all "general averages arising on the voyage are to be settled at Genoa." This clause has not been insisted upon in the brief, doubtless for the reason that the goods never went to Genoa; that so far as appears none of the parties reside in Genoai that Genoa was not touched at in any of the voyages; that the clause is limited in term8 to "general averages i" and that
there is no proof given to show the Italian law differs from our law. The law governing this contract I have supposed to be the .law of England, as the contra,ct was made in Shanghai, a port conceded in this case to be a port subjeet for the purposes of commerce and navigation to .EngEsh law; and the law of England applicable to the. case is deemed similar to the)aw of the United States, with the single exception proved, namely, that the law of the British Empire permits carriers to exempt themselvel'l1;ly exprees contract from responsibility for losses occasioned by the negligence of their servants,-an exception not important under the construction here given to the contract. The further point was made at the trial, but not in the brief, that the damage in question might have been caused in a warehouse in HOllg Kong, where, according to the bill of lading, the ship had liberty to land and store the. goods at shippers' risk, to await the arrival there of the first available connecting steamer. As to this it is sufficient to say that, for all that appears, the goods may have been transhipped directly to a connecting steaml:'r at ,Hong Kong, without going into warehouse. If the goods were put in store at Hong Kong, it was incumbent on the claimant to prove it. I observe in the brief the point made that the damage in question was not discovered until some days after the goods had been landed from the ship in New York, and that, inasmuch as rats may have eaten the bales after they were discharged, proof that the goods were damaged by rats when landed is necessary before the libelant can recover. This point did not attract my attention at the trial, and, as the respondent is of course not liable for rat damage done after delivery, leave is given to either party to take proofs upon the reference as to the existence of rat damage when the goods were delivered, and the damage reported will be limited to damage by rats appearing to have occurred prior to the delivery of the goods in New York. The conclusion I have arrived at renders it unnecessary to consideI the interesting proposition argued in behalf of the libelants, that an exception such as this bill of lading contains, being held by the courts of the United States to be contrary to public policy, should never be enforced by th.e courts of the United States upon grounds of comity, because comity yields when the law of the foreign state conflicts with a rule of the forum based upon public policy. Let a decree be entered in favO! of the libelant, with an order of reference to ascertain the amount of damage by rats to the libelant's goods.
BLACK tI. SOUTHERN PAC. R. CO.
(Oircuit Oourt, N. D. Oalifornia.
SHIPPIKG-LIABILITY OF VESSEL FOR TORT-LIMITING LIABILITy-PROCEEDING EXCLUSIVE.
Proceedings of the United States district court, under admiralty rule 04, United States supreme court. and sections 4283-428.'i, Rev. St.. the act of congress of June 26. 1884. and section 4289. Rev St., as amended by act of June 19. 1886, to limit the liability of ship-owners for loss or damages to persons or goods. snpersede all other actions and snits for the same damages in the state or national courts. upon the matters being properly presented therein, In the nature of the case, where the jurisdiction of the district court has attached, it is exclusi ve.
The petition or libel may be filed in the district conrt before, as well as after, SUIt commenced to recover damages. (Syllabus by tlte Court.)
3. SA)!E-TafE OF FILING PETI'l'ION-RULE 54.
At Law. Motion to stay proceedings and strike the case from the calendar. The steamer Julia was a duly enrolled and licensed vessel, under the laws of the United States, for the coasting trade, and was employed, in connection with the railroad of the Southern Pacific Company, as a part of its continuous line of overland transportation between the state of California and otber states, in the business of commerce and navigation, and in navigating between Vallejo Junction, in the county of Contra Costa, across the straits of Carquinez, to South Vallejo, in Solano county, in the state of California, upon tide waters, and within the admiralty jurisdiction of the United States. On February 27, 1888, as she was leaving her dock at South Vallejo for Vallejo Junction, with a considerable number of passengers, but without cargo, her boilers exploded, in consequence of which about 30 passengers lost their lives, and 8.others were injured; and the steamer was so largely damaged that she was beached at Somh Vallejo. The Central Pacific Railroad Company as owner, and the Southern Pacific Company as lessee, in pursuance of admiralty rule 54, thereupon filed a petitio!). in the United States district court for the Northern district of California, stating the foregoing and other necessary facts; that suits were about to be commenced against them by the heirs and representatives of the parties killed, and by parties injured, for sums largely in excess of the value of the interest of the petitioners in the vessel and freight; and prayed that they might be declared entitled to the benefit of the act of congress as expressed in sections 4283, 4284, and 4285 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, and of an act passed June 26, 1884, and particularly section 18 of said act; also the benefit of section 4289, Rev. St., as amended' by an act passed June 19, 1886. They also asked that they might be permitted to convey all their interest in said steamer and freight to a trustee to be named by the court, for the benefit of the parties injured, and the heirs and representatives of those