Starin v. New York
Annotate this Case
115 U.S. 248 (1885)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Starin v. New York, 115 U.S. 248 (1885)
Starin v. New York
Submitted April 22, 1885
Decided November 2, 1885
115 U.S. 248
When it appears in a suit that same title, right, privilege or immunity on which recovery depends will be defeated by one construction of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or sustained by the opposite construction, the case is one arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States within the meaning of that term as used in the Act of March 3, 1875, 18 Stat. 470.
The questions whether the City of New York has the exclusive right to establish ferries between Manhattan Island and the north shore of Staten Island on the Kill von Kull, and whether in a given case this right has been interfered with by the setting up of a ferry without license are not questions arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States.
A separate defense by one defendant in a joint suit against him and others upon a joint or a joint and several cause of action does not create a separate controversy, so as to entitle that defendant, if the necessary citizenship exists as to him, to a removal of the cause under the second clause of § 2, Act of March 3, 1875.
These were appeals from orders of the circuit court remanding a suit which had been removed from a state court under the Act of March 3, 1875, c. 137, 18 Stat. 470. The questions to be decided arise on the following facts:
The Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonalty of the City of New York, a municipal corporation of the State of New York, commonly called the City of New York, brought a suit in equity on or about the 11th of August, 1884, in the Superior Court of the City of New York against John H. Starin, Independent Steamboat Company, Starin's City, River and Harbor Transportation Company of New York, New York and Staten Island Steamboat Company, David Manning, Franklin Wilson, William Clark, John G. Belknap, James B. Corwin, Max Golden, Samuel
Underhill, and Frank Smith, to restrain them from using and employing the steam ferry boats Pomona, D. R. Martin, Laura M. Starin, and Castleton, or any other vessel or vessels of any kind, for and in the transportation of persons, animals, vehicles, freight, goods, and chattels from or to Pier No. 18, North River, or from or to any place in Manhattan Island to or from certain landing places on the shore of Staten Island without the license or permission of the plaintiffs, and also for an account of moneys received by the defendants, or any or either of them, for such transportation. Both Manhattan Island and Staten Island are in the State of New York. The cause of action as stated in the complaint is that the city, under its charter granted originally January 15, 1730, by the Province of New York, and since confirmed by the State of New York, has the exclusive right of establishing ferries from Manhattan Island to the opposite shores in such and so many places as the common council may think fit; that the defendants, without the permission of the city, have set up and are maintaining a ferry between Manhattan Island and certain landing places on Staten Island, and for that purpose employ the boats above named; that the defendant Starin is the owner of the Castleton and the D. R. Martin, and the person chiefly interested in Starin's City, River and Harbor Transportation Company, of New York, which owns the Laura M. Starin, and in the New York and Staten Island Steamboat Company, which owns the Pomona; that while the business in done in the name of the Independent Steamboat Company, that company was organized and incorporated through his instrumentality and in his interest, and is composed of but three persons, all of whom are in his employ and under his control; that the incorporation of the company was a device for his own personal benefit, and that he is in fact the person actually operating the ferry. The certificate of incorporation, a copy of which is attached to the complaint, shows that the company was organized under the laws of New Jersey, July 26, 1884, with a capital of $5,000, divided into 500 shares of $10 each, all owned by three persons, for the transportation of persons and property upon water as common
carriers for hire; that the principal part of the business of the company in New Jersey was to be transacted in Jersey City, and that the business out of that state was to be done in the cities of New York and Brooklyn, and the several villages, landing places, cities, and towns on the Hudson River, Staten Island, and Long island, in New York, accessible by water.
The defendants Starin, Independent Steamboat Company, Starin's City, River and Harbor Transportation Company, and New York and Staten Island Steamboat Company each filed a separate answer to the complaint. All the other defendants, who are the masters or pilots or engineers employed in running the several boats, united in one answer. The answers all contain substantially the same defenses. They admit the ownership of the boats as set forth in the complaint except that it is alleged the Castleton belongs to the New York and Staten Island Steamboat Company instead of Starin. They admit the charter of the city, with words purporting to grant certain rights as to the establishment of ferries from Manhattan Island to the opposite shores, but deny that this grant extends to ferries between New York and that part of Staten Island which borders upon the Kill von Kull. They admit that the several boats mentioned in the complaint were run at stated times by the Independent Steamboat Company under the management of the masters and engineers, without the license or permission of the city, for the transportation of persons and property between Pier 18, North River, which is on Manhattan Island, and certain landing places on the shore of Staten Island, making daily fourteen trips or thereabouts, but they deny that in so doing the company either operated a ferry or usurped any franchise belonging to the city. They also deny the allegations in the complaint as to the connection of the defendant Starin with the Independent Steamboat Company, and deny that Starin is the person who is actually operating the boats.
The answers then allege, "as a matter of special defense under the laws of the United States:" --
1. That the Independent Steamboat Company is a corporation, organized and incorporated under the laws of New
Jersey, for the purpose of transporting persons and property by water, as a common carrier for hire, in and over the waters of the Hudson River, Kill von Kull, Raritan Bay, and their tributaries, between places on such waters in New York and New Jersey, including Staten Island and Long island, and the Cities of New York and Brooklyn; that the company chartered the boats in question from the several owners thereof, and leased wharves and landing places in New York and on the shore of Staten Island, bordering on the Kill von Kull, for the purpose of engaging in the business of transportation by water between such wharves and landings.
2. That all the boats in question are enrolled and licensed under the laws of the United States for carrying on the coasting trade as vessels of the United States, and that the individual defendants described as masters or engineers on the boats are all licensed under the laws of the United States to act as masters or pilots, or as engineers on steam vessels upon the waters traversed by the boats in question.
3. That for a number of years, terminating in 1874, steamboats similar to those operated by the company, and doing a transportation business similar to that in which the company is engaged, had been, without any license or permission from the city, navigated from Pier 18, New York, to the landing places on Staten Island made use of by the company, and back; that large sums were realized therefrom, and that since 1874, this business has greatly increased.
4. That the waters of the Hudson River or Bay of New York and the Kill von Kull are waters of the United States, and public and common highways of interstate and international commerce; that the steamboats, as operated by the company, do not constitute a ferry within the meaning of the laws of the United States or of the State of New York or of the city charter, but that the city seeks, under the cover of its charter and by this suit, to establish in itself, as and for a monopoly and as private property, the ownership of all rights to carry on commercial intercourse, consisting in the daily or regular interchange or transportation of passengers and property between Manhattan and Staten Islands, over such waters,
and to obstruct the navigation of such waters, although carried on by citizens of the United States in steam vessels duly enrolled and licensed under the laws of the United States and navigated by masters, pilots, and engineers duly licensed under the laws of the United States, thus practically nullifying the laws of the United States regulating commerce and navigation.
After the answers were filed, two petitions were presented for a removal of the suit to the circuit court, one by all the defendants on the ground that the suit was one arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States, and the other by the Independent Steamboat Company alone on the ground that there was in the suit a controversy wholly between that company and the city as to whether the company "had or had not the right to use and operate its steamboats" in the way contended for, and that this controversy could be fully determined between them. A copy of the record in the state court having been filed in the circuit court of the United States, that court remanded the cause, and thereupon these appeals were taken, one by all the defendants and the other by the Independent Steamboat Company alone. The two appeals were docketed in this Court separately.