Fretz v. Bull
53 U.S. 466 (1851)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Fretz v. Bull, 53 U.S. 12 How. 466 466 (1851)

Fretz v. Bull

53 U.S. (12 How.) 466

Syllabus

The extent of the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the courts of the United States, as explained in the preceding case, again affirmed.

In admiralty, the party entitled to relief should always be made libellant, and the practice of instituting a suit in the name of one person for the benefit of another to whom the right has been transferred only obtains in particular cases. But all persons entitled, on the same state of facts, to participate in the same relief, may join as libellants, whether the suit be in personam or in rem.

Hence, where the cargo of a boat was partly insured, but not the boat itself, and the insurance company paid for that part of the cargo which was insured, it was competent for the owners of the boat to file a libel for the use of the insurance company.

In this case, where a collision took place between a steamboat and a flatboat, both descending the Mississippi River, the steamboat was in fault.

The flatboat was in an eddy of the river, and impelled by it towards the steamboat, and the latter should have kept further away.

The facts in the case are stated in the opinion of the court.

The cargo of Flatboat No. 2 consisted of 3,136 sacks of corn, 31 barrels and one keg of lard, 315 sacks of oats, of which there were insured.

1,643 sacks of corn 4,125 bush. at 75c. . . . . $3,093.00

158 sacks oats 353 bush. at 40c. . . . . . . 141.20

17 barrels of lard . . . . . . . . . . . . . 333.63

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$3,567.83

which was paid by the insurance company, with a small deduction. When paid, there was an argument between the insurance company and John C. Bull & Co. that the latter would include the insurance company in the libel.

The libel was filed by John C. Bull, William J. McClure, and Thomas S. Foreman, trading under the firm of John C. Bull & Co., in the district court of the United States. They were the owners of the boat and of the corn, and filed the libel for the use of the insurance company. A variety of testimony was taken, the important parts of which are stated in the opinion of the Court.

The district court gave judgment in favor of the libellants in the sum of $3,753.45.

The defendants appealed to the circuit court.

The circuit court affirmed the judgment of the district court, and the defendants appealed to this Court.

Page 53 U. S. 468

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