Arthur v. Pastor
109 U.S. 139 (1883)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Arthur v. Pastor, 109 U.S. 139 (1883)

Arthur v. Pastor

Argued October 15, 1883

Decided November 5, 1883

109 U.S. 139

Syllabus

The statute imposing duties divides foreign wool into three classes, and enacts, among other things, that the duty on wool of the first class, which shall be imported washed, shall be twice the amount of the duty to which it would be subjected if imported unwashed, and further that wools of that class shall pay a specific duty per pound, and an ad valorem duty in addition. Held that the specific duty by weight is to be calculated on the same number of pounds in each case, and is to be twice the amount for washed wool that it is for unwashed, and that the ad valorem duty on washed wool is to be twice the ad valorem duty on the same number of pounds of unwashed wool.

This action was brought by the defendants in error to recover from the defendant below, now plaintiff in error, money alleged to have been illegally exacted and paid under protest as customs duties upon an importation of wool. Upon the facts set out in a bill of exceptions and in respect to which there is no dispute, there was a verdict and judgment for the plaintiff below upon a charge of the court to that effect, to review which this writ of error is prosecuted, the error alleged being that, upon the law of the case, the verdict and judgment should have been rendered for the plaintiff in error.

The importation, which took place January 3, 1876, consisted of 3,294 pounds of washed wool of class 1, tariff schedule L, the dutiable appraised value of which in its washed condition was $1,627, or 49.49 cents per pound. Had it been imported in an unwashed condition, the dutiable appraised value thereof would have been $813.50, or 24.69 cents per pound.

There were three grades or descriptions of wool known to the trade, rated as to value according to the degree to which they had been freed from impurities by processes of cleaning known as unwashed, washed, and scoured wool, and their cost and value were determined in a corresponding proportion,

Page 109 U. S. 140

washed wool being worth twice and scoured wool three times that of unwashed wool.

The same distinction, for the purposes of the law, was made in the provisions of the tariff act then in force. By the terms of that act (Rev.Stat. title XXXIII, schedule L) foreign wools were divided into three classes -- the first clothing wools, the second combing wools, the third carpet wools and other similar wools. It was provided that

"The duty upon wool of the first class, which shall be imported washed, shall be twice the amount of the duty to which it would be subjected if imported unwashed, and the duty upon wool of all classes, which shall be imported scoured, shall be three times the duty to which it would be subject if imported unwashed."

It was then provided that the duty to be levied should be as follows:

"Wools of the first class, the value whereof at the last port or place whence exported to the United States, excluding charges in such port, shall be thirty-two cents or less per pound, ten cents per pound, and in addition thereto eleven percent ad valorem. Wools of the same class, the value whereof at the last port or place whence exported to the United States, excluding charges in such port, shall exceed thirty-two cents per pound, twelve cents per pound, and in addition thereto ten percent ad valorem."

The collector, in making his assessment upon the importation in question, exacted duty as follows:

On 3,294 pounds at 20 cts. per pound . . . . . . $ 658.80

On $1,627 (its value washed) at 22 percent . . . 357.94

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Total . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $1,016.74

The importers protested that they should be charged, as an ad valorem duty, only $178.97, or one-half the amount charged and collected, being twenty-two percent on the reduced value of the wool, as if unwashed, making a difference of $178.97, which is the amount in controversy. It was proven on the trial that the value of that number of pounds of such wool unwashed would have been $813.50.

Page 109 U. S. 141

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