Stevens v. The White City - 285 U.S. 195 (1932)
U.S. Supreme Court
Stevens v. The White City, 285 U.S. 195 (1932)
Stevens v. The White City
Argued January 6, 1932
Decided March 14, 1932
285 U.S. 195
1. An ordinary towage contract does not create a bailment, but surrenders to the tug only such control over the tow as is necessary for the performance of the tug's engagement. P. 285 U. S. 200.
2. This is so even where the owner of the tow has no one aboard her, or where his boatman, on board at the beginning, leaves before the voyage is ended. P. 285 U. S. 201.
3. A suit by the owner of a tow against her tug to recover for an injury to the tow caused by negligence on the part of the tug is a suit ex delicto and not ex contractu. P. 285 U. S. 201.
4. The tug is not liable as an insurer or as a common carrier. Its duty is to exercise such reasonable care and maritime skill as prudent navigators employ for the performance of similar service. P. 285 U. S. 202.
5. In a suit against the tug for injury to the tow, the burden is upon the tow's owner to show that the injury was caused by a breach of that duty. Id.
6. The mere fact that the tow was in good order when received by the tug and in damaged condition when delivered by it does not raise a presumption of negligence against the tug. Id.
So held where the injury occurred while no one was with the flotilla save the owners of the tug, who could not explain when, how, or where the injury happened, and where there was nothing about the injury itself to warrant an inference that it resulted from fault or negligence on the part of the tug.
7. The burden of proving negligence in such a case is not satisfied by evidence which leaves the time, place, and cause of the injury in the realm of conjecture, and which is as consistent with an hypothesis that the tug was not negligent a with one that it was. P. 285 U. S. 203.
8. The party causing unnecessary parts of the record to be printed may be charged with the cost of printing them, under Rule 13, par. 9. P. 285 U. S. 204.
48 F.2d 557 affirmed.
Certiorari, 284 U.S. 602, to review the reversal of a decree in admiralty awarding damages against a tug for injury to her tow. For opinion of the District Court, see 35 F.2d 1006.