The BaltimoreAnnotate this Case
75 U.S. 377
U.S. Supreme Court
The Baltimore, 75 U.S. 8 Wall. 377 377 (1869)
75 U.S. (8 Wall.) 377
1. Restitutio in integrum is the leading maxim as to the measure of damages in cases of libel in admiralty, for injury to vessels, for collision: in other words, where repairs are practicable, the general rule is that the damages shall be sufficient to restore the injured vessel to the condition in which she was at the time the collision occurred. And this rule does not allow deduction, as in insurance cases, for the new materials furnished in the place of the old.
2. Although, if a vessel be sunk by collision in so deep water, or otherwise so sunk, that she cannot be raised and repaired, except at an expense equal to or greater than the sum which she would be worth when repaired, the rule cannot apply, still the mere fact that a vessel is sunk is not, of itself, sufficient to show that the loss is total, nor to justify the master and owner in abandoning her and her cargo.
3. Courts of admiralty cannot properly allow counsel fees to the counsel of a gaining side in admiralty, as an incident to the judgment, beyond the costs and fees allowed by statute. Under the statute now regulating the fees of attorneys, solicitors, and proctors (the statute, namely, of 26th February, 1853, 10 Stat. at Large 161), a docket fee of twenty dollars may be taxed, on a final hearing in admiralty, if the libellant recover fifty dollars, but if he recovers less than fifty dollars, only ten.
The schooner Woolston, with a cargo of coal, and the steamer Baltimore collided in the Potomac on the 16th of December, 1863, and the schooner and her cargo sank. The owners of the schooner accordingly libeled the steamer in the admiralty court of the District. The libel averred that the collision had been caused wholly by the steamer's fault, and that the schooner had sunk in such deep water as to make both her and her cargo a total loss, since the cost of raising either or both would be greater than its or their value.
These allegations, both as to the fault and the total loss, the answer explicitly denied. The testimony as to the question of fault need not be stated, since it appeared that a part of it was given below, was not in the record sent to this Court, and the court therefore did not pass at all upon the merits. On the other matter, the matter of total loss, it rather showed that the water in which the schooner went down was not so deep but that her masts were visible eighteen feet above the water, and that her position, as she lay, was clearly discernible.
No proof was given of the fact of a total loss further than that the vessel sunk.
The court, regarding the steamer as in fault, entered a decree for the libellants and, upon the report of a commissioner, decreed as damages, notwithstanding exceptions by the respondents, the full value of the schooner and cargo at the time of the collision and awarded to the libellant's
counsel $500 as a fee. This decree having been affirmed by the Supreme Court in general term, the case was now here on appeal.