The Falcon - 86 U.S. 75 (1873)
U.S. Supreme Court
The Falcon, 86 U.S. 19 Wall. 75 75 (1873)
86 U.S. (19 Wall.) 75
A steamer running at the rate of from eight to ten knots an hour on a bright moonlight night in an open bay, with nothing to mislead her, condemned for the loss of a schooner sailing with a six-knot breeze, whose only fault was alleged to be a false maneuver in the moment of impending collision. The Court declares it to have been the
"duty of the steamer to see the schooner as soon as she could be seen, to watch her progress and direction, to take into account all the circumstances of the situation, and so to govern herself as to guard against peril to either vessel. "
2. Where the libel alleged that the loss by the collision was substantially a total loss, and the answer substantially admitted this -- the vessel having sunk in Chesapeake Bay in five fathoms water, and it being clear from the proofs that she could not have been repaired without a large expenditure of time and money -- held that the fact that she was finally raised, repaired, and put in good condition was no defense to a claim for a total loss, especially as it did not appear at whose instance or at what cost this was done, nor by what right those in possession of her held her, and it not being either alleged or proved that she had been tendered back to her original owners. The case distinguished from The Baltimore, 8 Wall. 378.
3. But this decree for a total loss declared to bar any claim to the schooner by her former owners, and that their title should be remitted to the owners of the steamer.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for the District of Maryland, reversing a decree of the district court for the said district, in which, on a libel filed by the owners of a small schooner, the Mary Banks, of one hundred and eight-six tons, against the steamer Falcon, for a total loss by collision, the district court had condemned the steamer for the total loss asserted.