Marine Insurance Company of Alexandria v. Young
9 U.S. 187

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U.S. Supreme Court

Marine Insurance Company of Alexandria v. Young, 9 U.S. 5 Cranch 187 187 (1809)

Marine Insurance Company of Alexandria v. Young

9 U.S. (5 Cranch) 187

ERROR TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE

UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY

Syllabus

The court is not bound to give an opinion to the jury as to the meaning or construction of a written deposition read in evidence in the cause. It is no ground of reversal that the court below refused a new trial which had been moved for on the ground that the verdict was contrary to the evidence.

Error to the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia sitting at Alexandria in an action of covenant, brought by the defendant in error upon a policy of insurance under the corporate seal of the plaintiffs in error.

The point in issue in the court below was whether the insured, on 11 December, 1800, when he wrote his order for insurance, had notice of a storm which happened at Jamaica, on 2 November, 1800.

Part of the evidence offered to the jury was the deposition of David Young, a witness examined on behalf of the plaintiffs in error. Upon his cross-examination by the defendant in error, at the time of the taking of the deposition, he was asked this question, viz., "On what day in December did you inform the plaintiff that there had been a gale of wind in Jamaica?" To which it was stated in the deposition that he answered

"that on 13 December, 1800, he had informed the plaintiff (below) that there had been a strong northern in Jamaica; the circumstance which induced him to mention this was in consequence of a very heavy gale having happened the day before, and the brig Mary, being then in Hampton Roads, which produced this remark, that he had a blowing voyage out, being compelled to throw over his guns, and that the aforesaid northern had happened when he was in St. Anne's."

After the jury had retired to consider of their

Page 9 U. S. 188

verdict, they sent a written paper to the judges requesting to be instructed by the court whether the above answer of David Young would admit of any other reasonable or legal construction, than that 13 December, 1800, was the first information given by him to the plaintiff below of the storm of 2 November.

But the court refused to give any opinion to the jury upon the construction of the answer of David Young unless with the assent of both parties, and the counsel for the plaintiffs in error refused to assent, and took a bill of exceptions to the refusal of the court to instruct the jury, without the consent of both parties.

The jury found a verdict for the defendant in error, and before judgment the plaintiffs in error moved the court for a new trial upon the ground that the verdict was contrary to evidence.

The court having refused to grant a new trial, the counsel for the plaintiffs in error tendered a bill of exceptions containing what they supposed to be a correct statement of all the evidence offered on the trial, consisting of depositions and other papers, together with viva voce testimony, the substance of which they stated they had taken from their notes. But the court refused to seal the bill of exceptions unless the counsel for the plaintiff below would agree to a statement of the evidence, the court not being satisfied that the bill of exceptions stated all the evidence offered at the trial. To this refusal of the court to seal the bill of exceptions the counsel for the plaintiffs in error tendered another bill of exceptions, which the judges sealed.

Page 9 U. S. 190

CUSHING, J. delivered the opinion of the Court as follows:

This Court is of opinion that the inferior court

Page 9 U. S. 191

was not bound to give a construction of the answer of Captain David Young to the second interrogatory of the plaintiff below, as requested by the jury, and that it would be improper in this Court to determine whether the inferior court ought or ought not to have granted the motion of the defendants below for a new trial, upon the ground that the verdict was contrary to evidence.

The judgment below is to be affirmed with costs.

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