Oliver v. Maryland Insurance Company,
11 U.S. 487 (1813)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Oliver v. Maryland Insurance Company, 11 U.S. 7 Cranch 487 487 (1813)

Oliver v. Maryland Insurance Company

11 U.S. (7 Cranch) 487


The length of time a vessel may wait to take in her cargo without discharging the underwriters does not depend on the usage of the trade.

The danger which will justify a vessel in remaining in a port a long time without discharging the underwriters must be obvious, immediate, directly applied to the interruption of the voyage, and imminent, not distant, contingent, and indefinite.

If, according to the usage of the trade, a vessel be permitted to go from one port to another to collect her cargo, and she unnecessarily exhaust at one port the whole time allowed according to the usage of the trade to complete her cargo, she cannot go to the other port without being guilty of such a deviation as will avoid the policy.

The case arose upon a policy of insurance on the snow Comet, "at and from Baltimore to Barcelona, and at and from Barcelona back to Baltimore."

She arrived at Barcelona on 25 July, 1807, and after remaining forty days under quarantine, went up to the city, where she remained until 8 January, 1808. She then proceeded to Salon for the principal part of her cargo, which she took in there and sailed from thence on her return voyage to Baltimore on 28 January, 1808, and was captured by the British and condemned under the orders in council of 7 November, 1807.

At the trial, the defendants insisted on the delay at Barcelona and the stopping at Salou as deviations which destroyed the plaintiff's right to recover upon the policy. The plaintiff justified the stopping at Salou

Page 11 U. S. 488

by the usage of the trade. To justify the delay at Barcelona, he relied on two grounds, 1st, a reasonable apprehension of capture, and 2d, the usage of the trade. But the court below decided that these excuses, under the circumstances stated in the bills of exceptions, were insufficient. Verdict and judgment were rendered for the defendants, and the plaintiff brought his writ of error.

The circumstances relied upon to show a reasonable apprehension of danger were stated in the captain's protest to be as follows: that hearing, in the month of August, news respecting the dispute between Great Britain and the United States respecting the Chesapeake frigate, the agents recommended their remaining in Barcelona until they should hear how the differences should terminate, as part of their return cargo was to be purchased by bills on London. That when they were in the act of sailing for Salou on the 1st of December, they were informed that the Algerine cruisers were out capturing American vessels, and they were advised to remain until they received further information.

Page 11 U. S. 489

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