Hoiness v. United States
335 U.S. 297 (1948)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hoiness v. United States, 335 U.S. 297 (1948)

Hoiness v. United States

No. 20

Argued October 21, 1948

Decided November 8, 1948

335 U.S. 297

Syllabus

1. A District Court entered an order dismissing a libel and directing that counsel for respondents submit findings of fact and conclusions of law. Subsequently, it filed findings of fact and conclusions of law and a decree dismissing the libel. Libelant appealed within three months from the date of the first order, and what he sought to have reviewed was plain; but he referred only to the second order in his petition for appeal. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal on the ground that the first order was the final one, and that the second order was not appealable.

Held: it erred in doing so, since the defect resulting from a failure to refer to the first order was of such a technical nature that the Court of Appeals should have disregarded it in accordance with the policy expressed by Congress in R.S. § 954, 28 U.S.C. (1946 ed.) § 777. Pp. 335 U. S. 300-301.

2. A seaman on a vessel owned by the United States and operated under an agreement between the War Shipping Administration and a private shipping company was injured while the vessel was docked at San Francisco, and brought a libel in personam against the United States under the Suits in Admiralty Act. The libel did not allege that the seaman was a resident of the district where suit was brought, nor that the vessel was found there at the time suit was filed. The United States did not appear specially, but answered to the merits. Raising the question sua sponte, the District Court dismissed the libel for want of jurisdiction.

Held: It erred in doing so, since the provisions of § 2 of the Suits in Admiralty Act directing where suits shall be brought relate not to jurisdiction, but to venue, which was waived by failure to object before pleading to the merits. Pp. 335 U. S. 301-302.

165 F.2d 504 reversed.

A District Court dismissed for want of jurisdiction a libel brought by a seaman against the United States and others under the Suits in Admiralty Act. 75 F.Supp. 289. The Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal. 165 F.2d 504.

Page 335 U. S. 298

This Court granted certiorari. 333 U.S. 859. Reversed, p. 335 U. S. 302.

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