The Belgenland,
108 U.S. 153 (1883)

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U.S. Supreme Court

The Belgenland, 108 U.S. 153 (1883)

The Belgenland

Decided May 7, 1883

108 U.S. 153


1. A final decree in a collision suit in admiralty where the res has been surrendered on a stipulation under the provisions of § 941 Rev.Stat. may be entered against both principal and sureties at the time of its rendition.

2. If a decree in admiralty is entered against claimant and sureties, and claimant appeal, and sureties sign the supersedeas bond also as sureties, an alternative writ of mandamus will not be granted to vacate the decree below as to the sureties.

3. Nor will this Court, on the stipulator's motion, order the decree set aside here as to them.

Page 108 U. S. 154

One of these proceedings is at common law, the other in admiralty, but both took place at the same term of court and each sought to effect the same thing in a pending appeal in admiralty.

Under the provisions of § 941, Rev.Stat., William G. Warden and others, in September, 1879, became stipulators in the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of the master and claimants of the Belgenland in a suit brought there in admiralty for collision. The condition of the stipulation was as follows:

"Now if the said claimant shall and will truly abide by all orders, interlocutory or final, of said court, and of any appellate court in which the said suit may be hereafter depending, and shall fulfill and perform any judgment or decree which may be rendered in the premises, and also pay all costs, etc., this stipulation shall be void, otherwise in force, and execution may issue by virtue thereof at one and the same time against any or all the parties to this stipulation."

Proceedings were had in the suit and a decree for the payment of money was entered in favor of the libellant and against the claimants and the stipulators. From that decree an appeal was taken to the circuit court for the district, where, on the 14th of October, 1881, it was decreed

"that the libellant recover for himself and the other parties in interest, from the respondent, Samuel Jackson, and his stipulators, Joseph D. Potts, William G. Warden, Edward N. Wright, and James A. Wright, his or their damages for the collision mentioned in the libel, . . . aggregating, in all, the sum of $51,594.14."

The decree was also entered as a lien against the real estate of the stipulators.

Upon the rendition of this decree, an appeal was taken by the claimant to this Court, the petitioners signing a supersedeas bond as sureties. The petitioners being seized of real estate in the district, applied to the circuit court to vacate the decree against them on the ground that it was inadvertently entered and caused a cloud on the titles to their property. The court declined to make the order, and this application is now presented

Page 108 U. S. 155

for a mandamus requiring it to be done. After reciting the facts, the petition for the mandamus made the following averments:

"Your petitioners show that they are hindered and affected by the cloud on the titles of their respective real estates within the said district by reason of the decrees so rendered against them as stipulators as aforesaid; that titles have been refused by purchasers -- and they are advised that such decrees are improvidently entered against them, as an appeal in admiralty operates not only as supersedeas, but also vacates any decree of the court from whose decree the appeal is taken, and that no decree can be lawfully entered against stipulators whose obligation is conditional on the performance of the decree which may be finally rendered against the claimant, within the ten days allowed to the claimant, in which he may take an appeal from the decree rendered, and that your petitioners are without remedy in the premises unless redress is given as herein prayed, as no writ of error or appeal lies to the order of the court refusing to vacate said decree. "

Page 108 U. S. 156

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