Mephams v. Biessel - 76 U.S. 370 (1869)
U.S. Supreme Court
Mephams v. Biessel, 76 U.S. 9 Wall. 370 370 (1869)
Mephams v. Biessel
76 U.S. (9 Wall.) 370
1. Compensation to a person who had acted for four months (from 16th March to 26th July), both as captain and as one of two pilots on a Missouri steamer left at $900 per month, at which sum the circuit court had fixed it, the evidence, which though not so full as it ought to have been, showing that pilots' wages were at the time very high, that the person had performed his duty in both capacities well, and that the owners had charged his services against the government (which had impressed the vessel during twenty-six days of the time) at the rate of $1,000 per month.
2. A master not held liable for injury to flour apparently arising from a bad stowage, the same having occurred from a necessity to unload and reload in order to get across a bar in the river, the testimony showing that the captain was not blamable and there having been some reason to believe that the injury arose from causes inherent in the flour itself.
This was an appeal in admiralty from the decree of the Circuit Court for the District of Missouri, in which one Biessel, on the one side, had filed a libel in personam, against M. & W. Mepham, owners of the steamer Iron City for wages as master and pilot, and in which they, on the other, sought to set off against the claim for services at whatever sum these might be estimated a demand that they made against Biessel for injury to certain flour which on crossing a bar in the river (in order to lighten the vessel, and so get over the bar), it had been necessary to put ashore, and afterwards when the vessel had got over, with the rest of the cargo (that being unloaded and put ashore below the bar), to come back
for and reload, and which was ultimately found to be sour -- injured, as the Mephams asserted, by Biessel's carelessness in stowing it when it was taken on board the second time.
The court below sustained the claim of the libellant, fixing his wages at $900 a month, and refused to allow the setoff raised by the other side.