Gracie v. Marine Insurance Company of Baltimore
12 U.S. 75

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Gracie v. Marine Insurance Company of Baltimore, 12 U.S. 8 Cranch 75 75 (1814)

Gracie v. Marine Insurance Company of Baltimore

12 U.S. (8 Cranch) 75

Syllabus

A policy on goods to be safely landed at Leghorn is discharged by landing them at the lazaretto, that being the usage of trade.

Quaere whether ransom can be recovered where there is a warranty against particular average.

The facts of the case, as stated by MR. CHIEF JUSTICE MARSHALL in delivering the opinion of the Court were as follows:

This case arises on a policy of insurance bearing date 19 June, 1807, for $20,000 on the cargo of the ship Spartan "at and from Baltimore to Leghorn," the risk to commence on the loading and to continue "until the said goods shall be safely landed at Leghorn aforesaid."

The policy contained, in the printed part, the usual stipulation that the assured, in case of loss, shall labor, &c., for the preservation and recovery of the goods, to the expense of which the assurers would contribute according to the rate of the sum insured; in the policy is inserted in writing the words "warranted free from particular average."

The vessel sailed from Baltimore in June, 1807, and on 15 August arrived in the port of Leghorn.

According to the laws and usages of the place, ships arriving at that port and their cargoes were obliged to perform a quarantine of thirty days before admission of the cargo or of any person on board, into the city, the ships performing it in the port, the cargoes in a certain lazaretto erected for that purpose on the shore of the port about half a mile from the city. Some specified articles were excepted from this rule, but the cargo of the Spartan did not come within the exception. On the arrival in port of a vessel liable to quarantine,

Page 12 U. S. 76

the officers of government took possession of the cargo and removed it in public lighters to the lazaretto. Freight was earned upon the depositing of the cargo in the lazaretto, but payment of it, though often made before, could not be enforced until after the expiration of the quarantine, and until payment, the lien for the freight continued on the goods. The duties also accrued in the lazaretto, and until they were paid the goods could not be removed thence into the city.

The goods remained in the custody of the officers of government until the expiration of the quarantine, during the continuance of which neither the master of the ship nor the consignees had any power to interfere with or even see them but under a permit from the local authorities; such permits were commonly allowed the consignees, who might take samples and sell by those samples while the goods were performing quarantine.

After quarantine was performed and an order from the master obtained, the goods were received at the lazaretto by the owner or consignee, and transported at his risk and expense into the city. This transportation was most usually made by water, but there was a road along which light goods might be and frequently were carried. Even when goods were sold during the quarantine, they were removed at the risk and charge of the vendors.

In conformity with these regulations, the cargo of the Spartan was placed in the lazaretto. While it remained there performing quarantine, a body of French troops took possession of the city, seized the lazaretto, sequestered the goods there deposited, and refused to give them up until a ransom amounting to 53 percent on their estimated value should be paid for them. This ransom the owners or consignees were compelled to pay in order to obtain restitution of their goods. This action is brought to recover it from the underwriters.

Judgment was rendered in the circuit court for the defendants, which judgment is now brought before this Court by a writ of error.

Page 12 U. S. 82

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