Piedmont & Georges Co. v. Seaboard Fisheries Co. - 254 U.S. 1 (1920)
U.S. Supreme Court
Piedmont & Georges Co. v. Seaboard Fisheries Co., 254 U.S. 1 (1920)
Piedmont & Georges Creek Coal Company v.
Seaboard Fisheries Company
Argued March 16, 17, 1920
Decided October 11, 1920
254 U.S. 1
An oil company, owner of a fleet of fishing steamers and also of oil factories where the catch was delivered and the vessels coaled, having mortgaged this property and being without money or credit, made an agreement with a coal dealer to furnish the coal necessary for the season's operations, both parties understanding that the coal would be used by the factories as well as by the vessels, that the greater part would be used by the vessels, that the law would afford a lien on the vessels for the purchase price, and that the coal dealer would thus have security. The coal was billed and delivered directly to the oil company, title passing with delivery; it was then stored by that company in its factories, and afterwards appropriated by it mainly to the vessels, but partly to the factories, as occasion arose, and there was no understanding when the contract was made or at times of delivery that any part of it was for any particular vessel or for the vessels then composing the fleet. In libels of some of the vessels involving the coal dealer's rights as against a purchaser under the prior mortgage, held: (1) that the coal dealer had no maritime
lien for furnishing supplies "to a vessel . . . upon the order of the owner" under the Act of June 23, 1910, c. 373, § 1, 36 Stat. 604, because the coal furnished the vessel was furnished by their owner, and not by the coal dealer, p. 254 U. S. 6 et seq.; (2) that the fact that such maritime use had been contemplated did not render the subsequent appropriation by the owner a furnishing by the coal dealer to the several vessels, p. 254 U. S. 8; nor (3) was the understanding of the owner and the dealer that the law would afford a lien of any legal significance a against the purchaser under the mortgage. P. 254 U. S. 10. To hold that a maritime lien for the unpaid purchase price of supplies arises in favor of the seller merely because the purchaser, who is the owner of a vessel, subsequently appropriates the supplies to her use would involve abandonment of the principle upon which maritime liens rest and the substitution therefor of the very different principle which underlies mechanics' and materialmen's liens on houses and other structures. P. 254 U. S. 8.
253 F. 20 affirmed.
The case is stated in the opinion.