The Fannie - 78 U.S. 238 (1870)
U.S. Supreme Court
The Fannie, 78 U.S. 11 Wall. 238 238 (1870)
78 U.S. (11 Wall.) 238
1. A schooner meeting a steamer approaching her on a parallel line, with the difference of half a point in the courses of the two, held, in a collision case, upon the evidence, to have kept on her course, and therein to have done what she ought to have done.
2. A steamer approaching a sailing vessel is bound to keep out of her way, and to allow her a free and unobstructed passage. Whatever is necessary for this, it is her duty to do, and to avoid whatever obstructs or endangers the sailing vessel in her course. The obligation resting on the sailing vessel is passive rather than active, the duty to keep on her course. If, therefore, the sailing vessel does not change her course so as to embarrass a steamer and render it impossible, or at least difficult, for her to avoid a collision, the steamer alone is answerable for the damages of a collision, if there is one.
3. The absence of a proper lookout unimportant when the absence of one has nothing to do with causing the disaster. The Farragut, 10 Wall. 334, affirmed on this point.
This was a case of collision, in Chesapeake Bay, between the schooner Ellen Forrester and the steamship Fannie. The owners of the schooner libeled the steamer in the District Court for Maryland. That court decreed in their favor. The circuit court on appeal did the same. The owners of the steamer now brought the case here. No question of law was involved, the case resting chiefly on a conflict of evidence as to what had or had not existed or been done on the respective vessels at the time of the accident.