The City of Hartford and the Unit
97 U.S. 323 (1877)

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U.S. Supreme Court

The City of Hartford and the Unit, 97 U.S. 323 (1877)

The City of Hartford and the Unit

97 U.S. 323

Syllabus

1. A steamboat collided with and sunk a schooner towed by a tug. The owner of the schooner and the owner of her cargo severally libeled the steamboat and tug, both of which were found to be in fault. Held that each libellant was entitled to a decree against each of the offending vessels for a moiety of his damages and for interest and costs, with a proviso that if either of said vessels was unable to pay such moiety, then he should have a remedy over against the other vessel for any balance thereof which might remain unpaid.

2. The Alabama and the Gamecock,92 U. S. 695, and The Virginia Ehrman and the Agnese, supra, p. 97 U. S. 309, reaffirmed.

Hudson S. Rideout and others, owners of the schooner Abbie S. Oakes, and Charles Robinson, owner of her cargo,

Page 97 U. S. 324

filed their separate libels in the District Court for the Southern District of New York against the steamboat City of Hartford and the steam tug Unit to recover, the first $8,000, and the second $4,500, damages, occasioned by the sinking of the schooner in East River, New York, which was caused by a collision between the City of Hartford and her while she was in tow by the Unit. In each of the cases, the steamer and tug were claimed by their respective owners. In the first case, the claimant entered into a bond in the sum of $16,000, and a stipulation for costs for $250. In the second case, the bond was for $9,000 and the stipulation for costs for $250. The Unit having been appraised at $3,000, her owners entered into a stipulation for value in that sum and for $250 costs.

The court, on final hearing, entered a decree in the first case that the libellants recover from the City of Hartford the sum of $4,119.04 damages, with $56.29 interest and $234.19 costs, and dismissed the libel as to the Unit with costs against the libellants. In the second case, the court dismissed the libel as to the Unit and decreed that Robinson recover from the City of Hartford $3,407.79 damages, with $8.52 interest and $142.64 costs. The owners of the schooner thereupon appealed to the circuit court from so much of the decree as dismissed their libel against the Unit and awarded costs against them. The company appealed from the entire decree in each case. Robinson did not appeal. The circuit court, upon hearing, entered in the first case a final decree, reversing that of the district court, which dismissed the libel as to the Unit and awarded costs to the claimants, and ordering and adjudging that the libellants recover of the City of Hartford the sum of $2,087.67, being one-half of the damages sustained by the collision, together with interest thereon and the costs of seizure, and one-half of the general costs, making in all $2,674.54; that they recover of the Unit $2,087.67, being the other one-half of the damages, with interest, and the costs specially incurred by the proceedings against her, and one-half of the general costs, amounting in all to $2,787.54.

In the second case, the decree of the district court was modified, and it was ordered and adjudged that Robinson recover against the City of Hartford the sum of $1,856.66, being

Page 97 U. S. 325

one-half part of the damages sustained by him by reason of the collision, including interest thereon to the date of the decree of the district court, and the sum of $337.14 interest on said half part to the date of the decree of the circuit court, and so much of his costs against said steamboat in the district court as were incurred in the seizure, amounting to $102.90, with $18.60 interest thereon, together with one-half of the general costs of the circuit court, taxed at $14.35, amounting in all to $2,329.65.

From these decrees the Hartford and New York Steamboat Company, claimants of the steamboat, and Robinson, severally appealed to this Court.

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