The Carlos F. Roses
177 U.S. 655 (1900)

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U.S. Supreme Court

The Carlos F. Roses, 177 U.S. 655 (1900)

The Carlos F. Roses

No. 743

Argued January 12, 1900

Decided May 14, 1900

177 U.S. 655

Syllabus

The Carlos F. Roses, a Spanish vessel, owned at Barcelona, Spain, sailed from that port for Montevideo, Uruguay, with a cargo which was discharged there and a cargo of jerked beef and garlic taken on board for Havana, for which she sailed March 16, 1898. On May 17, while proceeding to Havana, she was captured by a vessel of the United States and sent to Key West, where she was libelled. A British company doing business in London, laid claim to the cargo on the ground that they had advanced money for its purchase to a citizen of Montevideo, and had received bills of lading covering the shipments. The vessel was condemned as enemy's property, but the proceeds of the cargo, which had been ordered to be sold as perishable property, was ordered to be paid to the claimants. Held,

(1) That as the vessel was an enemy vessel, the presumption was that the cargo was enemy's property, and this could only be overcome by clear and positive evidence to the contrary.

(2) That on the face of the papers given in evidence, it must be presumed

Page 177 U. S. 656

that, when these goods were delivered to the vessel, they became the property of the consignors named in the invoices.

(3) That the British company got the legal title to the goods and the right of possession only if such were the intention of the parties, and that that intention was open to explanation, although the persons holding the papers might have innocently paid value for them.

(4) That in prize courts, it is necessary for the claimants to show the absence of anything to impeach the transaction, and at least to disclose fully all the surrounding circumstances, and that the claimants had failed to do so.

(5) That the right of capture acts on the proprietary interest of the thing captured at the time of the capture, and is not affected by the secret liens or private engagements of the parties.

(6) That, in this case, the belligerent right overrides the neutral claim, which must be regarded merely as a debt and the assignment as a cover to an enemy interest.

The Carlos F. Roses was a Spanish bark of 499 tons, hailing from Barcelona, Spain, sailing under the Spanish flag, and officered and manned by Spaniards. She had been owned for many years by Pedro Roses Valenti, a citizen of Barcelona. Her last voyage began at Barcelona, whence she proceeded to Montevideo, Uruguay, with a cargo of wine and salt. All of the outward cargo was discharged at Montevideo, where the vessel took on a cargo consisting of jerked beef and garlic, to be delivered at Havana, Cuba, and sailed for the latter port on March 16, 1898. On May 17, when in the Bahama channel off Punta de Maternillos, Cuba, and on her course to Havana, she was captured by the United States cruiser New York, and sent to Key West in charge of a prize crew. The bark and her cargo were duly libeled May 20. All of the ship's papers were delivered to the prize commissioners, and the deposition of Maristany, her master, was taken in preparatorio. Kleinwort Sons & Company, of London, England, made claim to the cargo, consisting of a shipment of 110,256 kilos of jerked beef and 19,980 strings of garlic, and a further shipment of 165,384 kilos of jerked beef, alleging that they were its owners and that it was not lawful prize of war. In support of the claim, the firm's agent in the United States filed a test affidavit made on information and belief. In this, it was alleged that

Page 177 U. S. 657

Kleinwort Sons & Company were merchants in London; that the members of the firm were subjects of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; that in February and March, 1898, the bark, being then in Montevideo, bound on a voyage to Havana, took on board a cargo of jerked beef and strings of garlic shipped by Pla Gibernau & Company, merchants of Montevideo, to be transported to the port of Havana, and there to be delivered to the order of the shippers according to the condition of certain bills of lading issued therefor by the bark to Pla Gibernau & Company; that the members of the firm of Gibernau & Company were citizens of the Argentine Republic; that the bark left Montevideo on March 16, and proceeded on her voyage to Havana, until May 17, when, being at a point in the Bahama channel off Martinique, she was captured by the United States cruiser New York without resistance on her part, and sent into Key West as prize of war; that, after the shipment of the cargo in Montevideo, claimants made advances to the shippers and owners of the cargo in the sum of �6,297, British sterling, to-wit, �2,714 item thereof, upon the security of said lot of 110,256 kilos of jerked beef and 19,980 strings of garlic, and 3,583 item thereof, upon the security of said lot of 165,384 kilos of jerked beef; that at the time of making said advances, and in consideration thereof, bills of lading covering the shipments were delivered to claimants duly indorsed in blank, with the intent and purpose that they should thereby take title to said bills of lading and to said shipments of jerked beef and garlic, and should, on the arrival of the vessel at her destination, take delivery of the shipments and hold the same as security for their said advances until paid, and with the right to dispose of said shipments and to apply the proceeds to the payment of their said advances, and accordingly the said Kleinwort Sons & Company did become, and ever since have been and still are as aforesaid, the true and lawful owners of the said bills of lading and of the shipments of jerked beef and garlic therein referred to. The affidavits further stated that the advances were equivalent in money of the United States to about $30,644.35, and that no part of the same had been paid, or otherwise secured to be paid.

Page 177 U. S. 658

The cause was heard on the libel and claims of the master of the bark and Kleinwort & Company, and the evidence taken in preparatorio. The vessel was condemned as enemy property, and the court ordered the claimants of the cargo to "have sixty days in which to file further proof of ownership;" and because of its perishable nature, the marshal of the court was ordered to advertise and sell the same, and deposit the proceeds in accordance to law. No appeal was taken on behalf of the vessel. The cargo was sold and the proceeds deposited with the assistant treasurer of the United States at New York, subject to the order of the court. The time for claimants to take further proofs was twice extended. No witnesses were produced by claimants, but Charles F. Harcke, claimants' manager in London, made three ex parte affidavits before the United States consul general, which were offered in evidence by claimants. Appended to the affidavits were a large number of exhibits purporting to be papers, of copies of papers, relating to the shipment of the cargo, and some of the financial transactions of some of those who had to do with it. From these affidavits and papers it appeared that the voyage of the Carlos F. Roses was a joint venture entered into by Pedro Pages, of Havana, a Spanish subject, the Spanish owners of the vessel, and Gibernau & Company. The whole cargo was made up of two shipments, one of jerked beef and one of garlic, which had been purchased by Gibernau & Company on commission, and by them delivered to the Carlos F. Roses "consigned to order for account and risk and by order of the parties noted" in the invoices. The shipment of jerked beef containing 275,640 kilos in bulk was divided thus: 60%, 165,384 kilos, "to the expedition or voyage of the Carlos F. Roses;" 40%, 110,256 kilos, "to Mr. Pedro Pages, of Havana." The shipment of garlic was divided thus:9,990 strings, "account of Mr. Pedro Pages," and 9,990 strings for "account of" Gibernau & Company. Both invoices were signed by Gibernau & Company, and bore date March 11 and 12, 1898.

Harcke stated in one of his affidavits that

"the said cargo was ultimately destined for Don Pedro Pages, of Havana, who in the ordinary course of business would, by payment to or indemnification

Page 177 U. S. 659

of Kleinwort Sons & Co., or their agents in that behalf, take up the said bills of lading and thus be enabled thereon to take the goods. No payment whatever has been made to Messieurs Kleinwort Sons & Co., or their agents, on account of the payments made by them through the said advances by said Don Pedro Pages, or by any person on his behalf, or otherwise, and the said Kleinwort Sons & Co. have been and are wholly unindemnified in respect of their said payments, except so far as the proceeds of the said cargo and the insurance thereon which as the owners of the said goods they have become entitled to collect, thereby subrogating to their own right, to the extent of such payments, the insurers of the said goods."

The ship's manifest appears to have been signed by Maristany, her master, at Montevideo, on March 15, 1898, and was vised by the Spanish consul at that port the previous day. It described the ship's destination as Havana, and her cargo as made up of two lots of jerked beef containing 248,076 kilos and 29,970 kilos respectively, and one lot of garlic containing 19,980 strings, all shipped by Gibernau & Company, "to order." On March 14, Maristany issued three bills of lading, in which it was stated that the shipments were received from Gibernau & Company for transportation to Havana "for account and at the risk of whom it may concern," one of the bills covering a shipment of 165,384 kilos of jerked beef, another of 110,256 kilos of jerked beef, and the third of 19,980 bunches of garlic.

March 15, Gibernau & Company drew this bill of exchange:

"No. 128. Montevideo, March 15, 1898. For �2,714 13 8. Ninety days after sight, you will please pay for this first of exchange (the second and third being unpaid), to the order of the London River Plate Bank, L'd, the sum of �2,714 13 8, value received, which you will charge to the account of Pedro Pages, of Havana, as per advice."

"Pla Gibernau & Co."

To Messrs. Kleinwort Sons & Co., London.

On the same day, Maristany drew this bill of exchange:

"No. 129. Montevideo, March 15, 1898. For �3,583 11 6.

Page 177 U. S. 660

Ninety days after sight, you will please pay for this first of exchange (the second and third being unpaid), to the order of Pla Gibernau & Co. the sum of �3,583 11 6, invoice value of jerked beef, per Carlos F. Roses, which you will charge to the account of P. Roses Valenti, of Barcelona, as per advice."

"Ysidro Bertran Maristany"

"To Messrs. Kleinwort Sons & Co., London."

This was indorsed by Gibernau & Company.

Valenti was the managing owner of the Carlos F. Roses. Both bills of exchange passed through the London River Plate Bank, L't'd, at Montevideo. On April 6, they were accepted by Kleinwort Sons & Company, and on May 9 were paid under discount by that firm. Harcke alleged that at the time of the acceptance of these bills of exchange, bills of lading covering the shipments of the garlic, and the jerked beef shipped for account and by order of Pages endorsed in blank by Gibernau & Company, were delivered to claimants as security for the payment of the bills of exchange, and that thereafter the bill of lading covering the shipment of jerked beef made for the account and by the order of the Carlos F. Roses was delivered in like manner, but affiant did not state when. It was also alleged that, on April 9, the bills of lading and invoices covering the shipment of garlic and Pages share of the jerked beef were mailed by Kleinwort Sons & Company to Gelak & Company, bankers of Havana, to be held until the bills of exchange charged to the account of Pages should be paid. Neither the instructions sent to Gelak & Company nor a copy of them was produced. Harcke further alleged that the bills of lading and the invoices covering the vessel's share of the shipment of jerked beef were retained by Kleinwort Sons & Company "pending the disposal of the said cargo." On May 17, the day of the capture, Kleinwort Sons & Company cabled Gelak & Company requesting them to return the bills of lading and invoices which had been forwarded on April 9. June 9, Gelak & Company replied that the bills and invoices had not been received. On October 21 claimants produced these bills of lading, alleging that they had been received from Gelak &

Page 177 U. S. 661

Company on October 18, and that neither Pages Gibernau & Company nor the owners of the Carlos F. Roses had paid claimants anything for or on account of their acceptance and payment of the bills of exchange. The cause of the cargo was heard a second time on the claim, test affidavit, and Harcke's affidavits, and a decree was entered for the payment to claimants of the proceeds of sale, from which decree the United States took this appeal.

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