Pleasants v. Maryland Insurance Company
12 U.S. 55 (1814)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Pleasants v. Maryland Insurance Company, 12 U.S. 8 Cranch 55 55 (1814)

Pleasants v. Maryland Insurance Company

12 U.S. (8 Cranch) 55

Syllabus

When a cargo is insured by diverse policies in some of which the rate of exchange is fixed at which the prime cost of the cargo shall be valued, in ascertaining the amount of the interest of the insured upon settlement of those policies in which the rate of exchange is fixed, the whole cargo is to be valued at that rate of exchange without regard to the rate of exchange by which the value may have been ascertained in the other policies.

Error to the Circuit Court for the District of Maryland in an action upon a policy of insurance dated 18 May, 1810, on the cargo of the brig Elizabeth from St. Petersburgh or Cronstadt to Philadelphia against all risks, for $6,000, "valuing

Page 12 U. S. 56

the invoice ruble at 46 cents." The invoice amounted to 95,565.71 rubles, equal, at 46 cents per ruble, to $43,960.23.

Before this policy was made, the plaintiff had effected eight other policies in Philadelphia to the amount of $36,900. In the first seven of these policies, there was no valuation of the ruble, but in the eighth it was valued at 40 cents. The defendants, at the time of executing this policy, had no knowledge of those affected in Philadelphia.

The vessel and cargo were captured by a Danish vessel and condemned. The plaintiff abandoned in due time.

The underwriters at Philadelphia paid. But on settlement of the seven first policies, in which the value of the ruble was not fixed, and which insured

429,900, the underwriters, in order to ascertain whether the plaintiff's interest in the cargo amounted to the sum insured by those policies, viz.,: $29,900, insisted upon fixing the value of the ruble at thirty-three and a third cents.

On settlement of the eighth policy, which valued the ruble at forty cents, and which insured $7,000, the calculation (in order to ascertain whether the plaintiff had still a sufficient interest left to entitle him to receive the $7,000 insured by that policy) was made by converting the whole amount of the invoice into at 40 cents per ruble, and deducting therefrom the $29,900 received upon the seven preceding policies. By this mode of calculation, it appears (according to the statement in the bill of exceptions, which, however, does not seem to be accurate) that after the plaintiff had received the $29,900 insured by the seven first policies, and the $7,000 insured by the eighth policy, his remaining interest to be covered by the ninth policy, was only 1,481.71 rubles, equal, at 46 cents per ruble, to $682.58.

But if, on settlement of this last policy, the plaintiff is entitled to have the value of his interest in the cargo ascertained by converting the whole amount of the invoice

Page 12 U. S. 57

into, at the rate of 46 cents per ruble, and deducting therefrom the $36,900 covered by the eight prior policies, then his remaining interest to be covered by this policy would be more than the $6,000 insured thereby.

The only question saved by the bill of exceptions at the trial below was whether the plaintiff should recover according to the first or according to the latter mode of calculation.

The plaintiff contended for the latter, but the court overruled him and directed the jury that he was only entitled to recover according to the former -- they found a verdict accordingly, whereupon the plaintiff brought his writ of error.

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