The St. Jose Indiano - 14 U.S. 208 (1816)
U.S. Supreme Court
The St. Jose Indiano, 14 U.S. 1 Wheat. 208 208 (1816)
The St. Jose Indiano
14 U.S. (1 Wheat.) 208
Goods were shipped by D. B. & Co. in the enemy's country on board a neutral ship bound to a neutral port, which was captured and brought in for adjudication. The invoice was headed "consigned to Messrs. D.B. & F., by order and for account of J. L." In a letter accompanying the invoice from the shippers to the consignees, they say
"For Mr. J. L. we open an account in our books here, and debit him, &c., but find his order for goods will far exceed the amount of these shipments; therefore, we consign the whole to you, that you may come to a proper understanding with him."
Held that the goods were, during their transit, the property and at the risk of the enemy shippers, and therefore subject to condemnation as prize.
In general, the rules of the prize court as to the vesting of property are the same with those of the common law, by which the thing sold, after the completion of the contract, is properly at the risk of the purchaser.
It is competent for an agent abroad who purchases in pursuance of orders to vest the property in the principal immediately on the purchase. This is the case when he purchases exclusively on the credit of his principal or makes an absolute appropriation and designation of the property for his principal.
The ship St. Jose Indiano, bound from Liverpool to Rio de Janeiro, was captured and sent into the United States, as prize of war in the summer of 1814. The ship and most of the cargo were condemned as British property in the circuit court, and there was no appeal by any of the claimants except in behalf of Mr. J. Lizaur, of Rio de Janeiro. The right of Mr. J. Lizaur to have restitution of property belonging to him at the time of capture was not contested by the captors, but it was contended that the property in question, when captured, was at the risk of the shippers, Messrs. Dyson, Brothers & Co. of Liverpool. The bill of
lading did not specify any order or account and risk. The invoice was headed "consigned to Messrs. Dyson, Brothers & Finnie, by order and for account of J. Lizaur." In a letter accompanying the bill of lading and invoice of 4 May, 1814, from Dyson, Brothers & Co. to Dyson, Brothers & Finnie, they say
"For Mr. Lizaur we open an account in our books here and debit him, &c. We cannot yet ascertain the proceeds of his hides, &c., but find his order for goods will far exceed the amount of these shipments; therefore we consign the whole to you, that you may come to a proper understanding with him."
The house of Dyson, Brothers & Co., of Liverpool and of Dyson, Brothers & Finnie, of Rio, consist of the same persons; goods claimed in behalf of the latter house were condemned on the ground that both firms represented the same parties in interest, and from this decision there was no appeal.