Seeberger v. Castro
153 U.S. 32 (1894)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Seeberger v. Castro, 153 U.S. 32 (1894)

Seeberger v. Castro

No. 296

Submitted March 19, 1894

Decided April 16, 1894

153 U.S. 32

Syllabus

The purchaser of an imported article in bond, pending an appeal from the assessment of duties upon it which is subsequently overruled, can, on paying the duties as assessed, maintain an action in his own name against the collector to recover an excess in the payment exacted.

Hager v. Swayne,149 U. S. 241, distinguished.

Tobacco scrap, consisting of

"clippings from the ends of cigars and pieces broken from the tobacco, of which cigars are manufactured in the process of such manufacture, . . . not being fit for any use in the condition in which the same are imported, and their only use being to be manufactured into cigarettes and smoking tobacco,"

was, under the Tariff Act of March 3, 1883, c. 121, subject to a duty of 30 percent ad valorem as unmanufactured tobacco, and not to a duty of 40 cents per pound as manufactured tobacco.

The defendant in error (plaintiff below) sued to recover duties which he claimed had been illegally exacted on certain importations of tobacco. The case, by stipulation, was submitted without the intervention of a jury. The court found

Page 153 U. S. 33

the facts to be as follows: The Rayner & Baxter Cigar Company imported the tobacco in question, which consisted of

"clippings from the ends of cigars, and pieces broken from the tobacco of which cigars are manufactured, in the process of such manufacture, the said clippings and pieces not being fit for any use in the condition in which the same are imported, and their only use being to be manufactured into cigarettes and smoking tobacco."

The collector assessed upon the tobacco a duty of forty cents per pound, under Rev.Stat. § 2502, as amended by the Act. of March 3, 1883, c. 121, 22 Stat. 488, 491, 503, which took effect on March 3, 1883, including it within the terms of the fifth paragraph of Schedule F of that act, which reads as follows: "Tobacco, manufactured, of all descriptions, and stem tobacco, not specially enumerated or provided for in this act, forty cents per pound."

The importer seasonably protested, contending that the tobacco was not dutiable under the above paragraph of Schedule F, but was so under the seventh paragraph of the same, which reads as follows: "Tobacco, unmanufactured, not specially enumerated or provided for in this act, thirty percentum ad valorem."

From an adverse ruling of the collector, an appeal was duly brought to the Secretary of the Treasury. Pending this appeal, the importer sold the tobacco in bond to the plaintiff below, who, upon the affirmance of the collector's ruling by the secretary, paid the duties, and in due time brought this suit to recover.

Upon the facts thus found, the defendant asked the court to rule first that the plaintiff, as purchaser pending the decision of the secretary, could not maintain the suit; second, that the defendant was, as a matter of law, entitled to a judgment. Reserving these questions, which were adversely decided, the defendant brings the case here.

Page 153 U. S. 34

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