Union Steamship Company v. New York & Virginia S.S. Co. - 65 U.S. 307 (1860)
U.S. Supreme Court
Union Steamship Company v. New York & Virginia S.S. Co., 65 U.S. 24 How. 307 307 (1860)
Union Steamship Company of Philadelphia v.
New York & Virginia Steamship Company
65 U.S. (24 How.) 307
In a collision which took place in Elizabeth River, in 1855, between the steamship Pennsylvania and the steamship Jamestown, the Pennsylvania was in fault, and the collision cannot be imputed to inevitable accident.
Inevitable accident must be understood to mean a collision which occurs when both parties have endeavored by every means in their power, with due care and caution and a proper display of nautical skill, to prevent the occurrence of the accident.
If the night was very dark, it was negligence in the master of the Pennsylvania to remain in the saloon until just before the collision occurred, and if the night was not unusually dark, there was gross negligence in those who had the management of the deck.
The helm of the Pennsylvania was put to starboard when it ought not to have been, and the supposition that she was backing is shown not to have been correct by the force with which she struck the other vessel, which had taken every precaution to avoid the danger.
It was a case of collision which occurred between the steamship Jamestown and the steamship Pennsylvania, the libel
being filed by the owners of the former. The collision took place some few miles below the port of Norfolk, in Virginia, under circumstances which are freely stated in the opinion of the Court.
The district court decreed in favor of the libellants and assessed the damages at $1,893.08, with interest from 1st of February, 1855, till paid, and the circuit court affirmed the decree.