Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. v. Mellor - 233 U.S. 718 (1914)
U.S. Supreme Court
Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. v. Mellor, 233 U.S. 718 (1914)
Oceanic Steam Navigation Company v. Mellor
Argued January 13, 14, 1914
Decided May 25, 1914
233 U.S. 718
This case falls within the general proposition that a foreign ship may resort to the courts of the United States for a limitation of liability under § 4283, Rev.Stat. The Scotland, 105 U. S. 24.
It is competent for Congress to enact that in certain matters belonging
to admiralty jurisdiction parties resorting to our courts shall recover only to such extent or in such way as it marks out. Butler v. Boston S.S. Co., 130 U. S. 527.
In the case of a disaster upon the high seas, where only a single vessel of British nationality is concerned and there are claimants of many different nationalities, and where there is nothing before the court to show what, if any, is the law of the foreign country to which the vessel belongs, touching the owner's liability for such disaster, such owner can maintain a proceeding under § 4283, 4284 and 4285, Rev.Stat., and Rules 54 and 56 in Admiralty.
If it appears in such a case that the law of the foreign country to which the vessel belongs makes provision for the limitation of the vessel owner's liability, upon terms and conditions different from those prescribed in the statutes of this country, the owner can, nevertheless, maintain a proceeding in the courts of the United States under §§ 4283, 4284 and 4285, Rev.Stat., and Rules 54 and 56 in Admiralty. In such a proceeding, the courts of the United States will enforce the law of the United States in respect of the amount of such owner's liability, and not that of the country to which the vessel belongs.
The facts, which involve the construction of the Limited Liability Act and the right of the petitioner in this case to the benefit thereof, are stated in the opinion.