Saltonstall v. Russell,
152 U.S. 628 (1894)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Saltonstall v. Russell, 152 U.S. 628 (1894)

Saltonstall v. Russell

No. 314

Submitted March 22, 1894

Decided April 9, 1894

152 U.S. 628


By the submission of a case to the judgment of the circuit court upon an agreed statement of facts, all questions of pleading are waived, and no finding of facts by the court is necessary.

By sections 2931 and 3011 of the Revised Statutes, as amended by the Act of February 27, 1877, c. 69, if at the first port of entry, not being one of the ports at which the statutes authorize goods to be imported and shipped through without appraisement, goods imported by sea are entered for warehousing and immediate transportation by the same vessel to another port and are transported accordingly, and the duties thereon are assessed by the collector at the first port, and again by the collector at the second port and paid by the importers to the second collector to obtain possession of the goods, no part of the duties can be recovered back in an action by them against him unless due protest is made within ten days after the decision of the first collector as to the rate and amount of duties.

This was an action, brought May 15, 1888, against the collector of customs for the port of Boston and Charlestown to recover back duties exacted by him and paid under protest upon blueberries imported by the plaintiffs from New Brunswick. No answer was filed, but the case was submitted to the decision of the circuit court upon a statement of facts in which it was agreed that the regulations of the Treasury Department might be referred to, and that the court might enter judgment as the law required upon the facts stated, which were, in substance, as follows:

On October 22, 1887, the plaintiffs imported from New Castle, in the province of New Brunswick, into the port of Eastport, in the State of Maine, upon the steamship Cumberland, running regularly between St. John, New Brunswick, Eastport, and Boston, in the State of Massachusetts, five hundred cases of canned blueberries consigned to John Thompson, the master of the steamship, to be by him entered at the custom-house at Eastport, and thence to be immediately transported

Page 152 U. S. 629

in bond to the port of Boston, consigned to the plaintiffs, and the goods were duly entered by him, as agent of the plaintiffs at the custom-house at Eastport, for warehouse and immediate transportation, without being removed from the steamship. On the same day, the duties were assessed by the collector at Eastport, and the amount of duty fixed at $144, being twenty percent of $720, the value of the blueberries, cases, cans, and cost of packing, added together, that being the amount of the entered value as stated in the invoice. The value of the blueberries was $315, the value of the coverings $330, and the cost of packing them $75. The cases were made of wood. Each case contained twenty-four cans, made of tin, and each can contained one and a half pounds of blueberries. Both the cases and the cans were the usual and necessary coverings or such goods, and were not of any material or form designed to evade duties thereon, nor designed for use otherwise than in the bona fide transportation of the goods to the United States.

The goods were immediately transported by the same steamship to Boston. Upon examination of the goods by the United States appraisers in Boston, they reported to the defendant that the dutiable value of the same was $315, being the cost of the blueberries, without including the value of the coverings or the cost of packing them, and the defendant wrote to the collector at Eastport calling his attention to the fact that he had included the value of the coverings in his assessment; but he refused to correct it. Thereupon the defendant reported the case to the Secretary of the Treasury, informed the collector at Eastport of the fact, and meantime suspended the entry. On November 11, 1887, the Secretary of the Treasury wrote a letter to the collector at Eastport instructing him to make the correction.

On November 18, 1887, the plaintiffs entered the goods at the custom-house in Boston for re-warehousing and withdrawal. The defendant assessed the duties thereon for the same amount and made up of the same items as the collector at Eastport, and exacted payment of the same from the plaintiffs. They contended that the merchandise was subject to a duty of

Page 152 U. S. 630

twenty percent of the value of the blueberries, not including the value of the boxes and cans or the cost of packing, and paid the assessed duties to the defendant under protest, and, being dissatisfied with his decision, on the same day gave to him, and mailed to the collector at Eastport, notices thereof in writing, setting forth distinctly and specifically the grounds of their objection, and appealed to the Secretary of the Treasury, who declined to entertain the appeal on the ground that the protests had not been seasonably filed, but affirmed the assessment by the collector at Eastport, and the plaintiffs seasonably brought this suit to recover the sum of $81, exacted and paid upon the coverings and cost of packing.

Upon the agreed statement of facts, the circuit court gave judgment for the plaintiffs, and the defendant sued out this writ of error.

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