The Propeller Commerce
66 U.S. 574 (1861)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

The Propeller Commerce, 66 U.S. 1 Black 574 574 (1861)

The Propeller Commerce

66 U.S. (1 Black) 574

Syllabus

l. To bring a case of collision within the admiralty jurisdiction of the federal courts, it is not necessary to show that either of the vessels was engaged in foreign commerce or commerce between the states.

2. The admiralty jurisdiction is not taken away by the fact that the collision or other tort was committed within the body of a county.

3. Locality is the test of jurisdiction. If the collision occurred on those navigable waters which empty into the sea or into the bays and gulfs which form a part of the sea, the maritime courts have jurisdiction.

4. A suit in rem for a marine tort may be prosecuted in any district where the offending thing is found.

This was a libel filed in the district court by Henry Fitzhugh, De Witt C. Little, John Peck, and James Peck, against the steam propeller Commerce, claimed by the Commercial Transportation company as owners, averring a collision on the Hudson River with the libellants' lake boat, the Isabella, by which the latter vessel was sunk, causing an injury to boat and cargo of $17,000. The cargo, it seems, did not belong to the libellants, but was in their custody as common carriers.

The allegations of the libel, the defense set up in the answer, the facts of the case as they appeared in evidence, and the points of law raised in the argument are stated in so much fullness by MR. JUSTICE CLIFFORD that they need not be repeated here.

The libel was dismissed by the district court, but on appeal to the circuit court a decree was passed in favor of the libellants for $11,443 15, and thereupon the claimants appealed to this Court.

Page 66 U. S. 575

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