Herrman v. Robertson,
152 U.S. 521 (1894)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Herrman v. Robertson, 152 U.S. 521 (1894)

Herrman v. Robertson

No. 280

Argued March 14, 1894

Decided April 2, 1894

152 U.S. 521


An importation of goods into the port of New York in 1881 being classified under the first clause of Revised Statutes section 2499 by the customs officers, as bearing a similitude to manufactures composed wholly or in part of the hair of the alpaca, goat, or other like animals, the importer paid the duties demanded under that classification -- fifty cents per pound and 35 per cent ad valorem -- first protesting that the goods were

"composed of hair and cotton only, and as such should pay a duty of 35 per cent ad valorem, as a nonenumerated article under the second half of Rev. Stat. section 2499, being the highest rate of duty which any of the component material pays."

In an action brought by the importer to recover the alleged excess of duties so demanded and collected, held that this protest was defective in that it failed to point out or suggest in any way the provision which actually controlled, and in effect only raised the question which of two clauses, under one or the other of which it was assumed that the importation came, should govern as being most applicable.

Action to recover duties paid under protest. Trial by jury, and bill of exceptions as follows:

"This action was brought to recover the difference in duty between 35 percent ad valorem and various higher rates of duty assessed and paid upon certain goods imported by plaintiffs at the port of New York in the year 1881."

"Duties were paid to defendant under protest as follows: against defendant's liquidation claiming:"

"The goods in question are liquidated by you as being liable to a duty of fifty cents per pound and 35 percent ad val."

" We claim the goods are composed of hair and cotton only, and as such should pay a duty of 35 percent ad val. as a nonenumerated article, under the second half of section 2499, Revised Statutes, being the highest rate of duty which any of the component material pays."

"Plaintiffs thereafter, in due time, appealed and brought this suit."

"Further, to maintain the issues on their part, plaintiffs

Page 152 U. S. 522

introduced samples of the goods in question and evidence tending to show from an analysis their component material to be calf hair and cotton exclusively. Among other evidence on this point, a report as to these samples from Prof. Torrey, an expert witness, was verified by him, and on this point was as follows:"

" The sample marked 'C 386' by the Republic, August 12, 1887, found to contain 87.4 calf hair and 12.6 cotton by weight."

" The next sample, '292,' Arizona, Aug. 20, 1887, 86.6 calf hair and 13.4 cotton."

" Sample 760, Alaska, Dec. 1887, 88.5 calf hair and 11.5 cotton."

" H. T. 2,680, 85.6 calf hair and 14.4 cotton."

" H. T. 2,759, 86.1 calf hair and 13.9 cotton."

" The above samples were all composed of calf hair and cotton, with no admixture of wool that could be detected by the aid of the microscope."

" (Signed H. G. Torrey, government examiner of textile fabrics.)"

"There was no admixture of wool in the goods."

"It further appeared that the goods in question were a low grade of calf-hair goods. It further appeared that they cost less than forty cents per pound, the foreign value per running yard being from one shilling and ten pence to two pence."

"Plaintiffs having rested, counsel for defendant, without introducing any evidence, moved the court to direct a verdict for the defendant, which motion was granted, and the counsel for the plaintiffs then and there duly excepted, and the exception was allowed."

The verdict having been returned as directed, and judgment been entered thereon, plaintiffs brought the case to this Court on writ of error.

Page 152 U. S. 523

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