Arthur v. Unkart - 96 U.S. 118 (1877)
U.S. Supreme Court
Arthur v. Unkart, 96 U.S. 118 (1877)
Arthur v. Unkart
96 U.S. 118
1. In 1873, certain gloves, commercially known as "silk plaited gloves" or "patent gloves," made on frames and manufactured in part of silk and in part of cotton, cotton being the component part of chief value, were imported at New York, upon which the collector imposed a duty of sixty percent ad valorem under the eighth section of the Act of June 30, 1864, 13 Stat. 210. Held that the articles did not come within the general terms of that section because, 1st, they were not, by reason of their component materials, silk gloves; 2d, they were commercially known only as "plaited gigues," or "patent gloves;" and 3d, they did not fall within the concluding clause, silk not being the component part of chief value.
2. Not being included in the Act of 1864, the articles were dutiable under the twenty-second section of the Act of March 2, 1861, 12 Stat. 191, and the thirteenth section of the Act of July 14, 1862, id. 556, where they are enumerated as gloves made on frames.
3. In an action against a collector of customs to recover the amount of duties on imports alleged to have been exacted in violation of law, the burden of proof is upon the plaintiff.
In May, 1873, Unkart & Co. imported into New York certain merchandise, upon which the plaintiff in error, the collector of the port, assessed and collected a duty of sixty percent under the eighth section of the Act of June 30, 1864, 13 Stat. 210, which imposed a duty of sixty percent on various articles of clothing made of silk, naming hats, gloves, &c. The concluding clause of the section is as follows: "On all manufactures of silk, or of which silk is the component of chief value, not otherwise provided for, fifty percent ad valorem."
Against the imposition of that rate of duty the importers protested in due form upon the ground that such merchandise, being gloves and similar articles made on frames, not otherwise provided for, is only liable to duty under the twenty-second section of the Act of March 2, 1861, and the thirteenth section of the Act of July 14, 1862, at the rate of thirty-five percent ad valorem, less ten percent; under the second section of the Act of June 6, 1872, as a manufacture of cotton, or of which cotton is the component part of chief value.
Upon the trial of this action, which was to recover the excess so paid, it was conceded that the articles in question were gloves; that they were commercially known as "silk-plaited gloves," or "patent gloves;" that they were manufactured in part of silk and in part of cotton, and were made on frames.
The court charged the jury that while the burden of proof was upon the plaintiffs to show that they had fulfilled all the formal, ordinary prerequisites to bringing their action, it was upon the defendant to justify his exaction of the duty imposed, so that it was for them to be satisfied that the evidence fairly preponderated in favor of the defendant, that the materials which were the component of chief value in the gloves in question were silk; otherwise, the plaintiffs were entitled to a verdict, there being no question on the evidence but that the prerequisites in regard to which the burden rested upon the plaintiffs had been complied with. The jury found that cotton was the chief component of value in the gloves and that the value of the silk therein was less than that of the cotton, and gave their verdict for the plaintiffs.