Richardson v. Harmon - 222 U.S. 96 (1911)
U.S. Supreme Court
Richardson v. Harmon, 222 U.S. 96 (1911)
Richardson v. Harmon
Argued April 25, 26, 1911
Decided November 20, 1911
222 U.S. 96
In construing an act of Congress, the known policy of Congress in regard to the subject matter of the statute will be considered.
The policy of Congress in enacting statutes in regard to the liability of vessel owners has been to encourage investment in ships, and, to that end, to relieve the owners from liabilities that are not the result of their own fault, negligence, or privity.
Section 18 of the Act of June 26, 1884, 23 Stat. 57, c. 121, adds to the claims against which vessel owners can limit their liability and includes those arising out of the conduct of the master and crew, whether the liability be strictly maritime or from a tort nonmaritime, but leaves them liable for their own faults, neglect, and contracts.
The owners of a vessel colliding by its own fault with a structure on land can limit their liability for the damages done to their interest in the vessel although such a collision may not be a maritime tort, and the district court has jurisdiction to entertain a petition to that effect.
The facts, which involve the construction of the statutes limiting liability of vessel owners, are stated in the opinion.