Where this Court in a collision case directed a decree dividing
the damages as between the two vessels and allowing to the owners
of the cargo of one vessel a full recovery against the other
vessel, and the court below, upon the production of the mandate of
this Court, refused to permit the latter vessel to recoup against
the other one-half the damages to the cargo, it was held that the
remedy was by a new appeal, and not by mandamus from this Court, no
disobedience of the mandate being shown.
This was a petition for a writ of mandamus to the District Court
for the Eastern District of Michigan, commanding it to set aside a
decree entered in the case of The New York, 175 U.
, and enter a decree dividing the damages equally,
so that petitioner would not be decreed to pay more than one-half
the total damages arising out of the collision between the New
and the Conemaugh,
with interest thereon not
exceeding five percent per annum.
Upon the opinion of this Court in the case of the New
being filed, a mandate issued that the decree of the
court of appeals be reversed, and the case remanded to the district
court, with direction "to enter a decree in conformity with the
opinion of this court, with interest at the same rate per annum
that decrees bear in the State of Michigan." Upon the case's coming
on to be heard in the district court, the petitioner, the Union
Steamboat Company, owner of the propeller New York,
submitted a decree to the effect that both vessels were in fault
for the collision, and that the damages resulting therefrom be
equally divided between the Erie & Western Transportation
Company, owner of the Conemaugh,
and the Union Steamboat
Company, owner of the New York;
that such damages amounted
in all to the sum of $74,319.49, of which certain intervening
underwriters of the cargo were entitled to, and recovered from the
steamboat company, $19,841.56; that
Page 178 U. S. 318
the transportation company, as trustees for the underwriters and
owners of the cargo of the Conemaugh, not intervening, suffered
damages in the sum of $19,627.67; that, as owner of the propeller,
it had suffered damages in the sum of $30,508.46, aggregating the
sum of $50,136.13; that the transportation company recover of the
petitioner one-half of $50,136.13, less one-half the sum of
$19,841.56, decreed to be paid to the intervening petitioners,
The court, however, declined to enter this decree, refused to
permit the petitioner to recoup any sum that it might pay to the
owners or underwriters of the cargo of the Conemaugh, from any sum
that was due from the steamboat company for damages sustained by
the Conemaugh, so that such company was compelled to pay of the
total damages about seventy-six percent, instead of fifty percent
MR. JUSTICE Brown delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioner applies for this writ of mandamus upon the ground
that the district court refused to enter a decree in conformity
with the opinion of this Court dividing the damages, but in effect
entered a decree imposing upon the Union Steamboat Company, the
petitioner, about seventy-six percent of the damages occasioned by
The duty of an inferior court upon receiving the mandate of this
Court is nowhere better described than by Mr. Justice Baldwin in an
early case upon that subject, Ex Parte Sibbald v. United
12 Pet. 488, 37 U. S. 492
"Whatever," said he,
"was before the Court and is disposed of is considered as
Page 178 U. S. 319
settled. The inferior court is bound by the decree as the law of
the case, and must carry it into execution according to the
mandate. They cannot vary it or examine it for any other purpose
than execution, or give any other or further relief, or review it
upon any matter decided on appeal for error apparent, nor
intermeddle with it further than to settle so much as has been
remanded. . . . If the special mandate directed by the
twenty-fourth section [of the Judiciary Act] is not obeyed or
executed, then the general power given to 'all the courts of the
United States to issue any writs which are necessary for the
exercise of their respective jurisdictions, and agreeable to the
principles and usages of law' by the fourteenth section of the
Judiciary Act fairly arises, and a mandamus or other appropriate
writs will go,"
although an appeal will also sometimes lie. Perkins v.
14 How. 328, 55 U. S. 330
Milwaukee & Minnesota
Railroad Co. v. Soutter,
2 Wall. 440, 69 U. S. 443
See also Boyce v.
9 Pet. 275; Ex Parte
Dubuque & Pacific Railroad,
1 Wall. 69;
Durant v. Essex Co., 101 U. S. 555
In re Washington & Georgetown R. Co., 140 U. S.
; City Bank v. Hunter, 152 U.
; In re City National Bank, 153 U.
; In re Sanford Fork & Tool Co.,
160 U. S. 247
In re Potts, 166 U. S. 263
It is equally well settled, however, that such writ, as a
general rule, lies only where there is no other adequate remedy,
and that it cannot be availed of as a writ of error. In re
Pennsylvania Co., 137 U. S. 451
In re Morrison, 147 U. S. 14
147 U. S. 26
Ex Parte Railway Co., 103 U. S. 794
Ex Parte Baltimore & Ohio R. Co., 108 U.
; In re Atlantic City R. Co.,
164 U. S. 633
inferior court is justified in considering and deciding any
question left open by the mandate and opinion of this Court, and
its decision upon such matter can only be reviewed upon a new
appeal to the proper court, In re Sanford Fork & Tool
Co., 160 U. S. 247
160 U. S. 256
and the opinion of this Court may be consulted to ascertain exactly
what was decided and settled. West v.
13 Pet. 51; Supervisors v.
Kennicott, 94 U. S. 498
Gaines v. Rugg, 148 U. S. 228
148 U. S. 238
148 U. S. 244
In re Sanford Fork & Tool Co., 160 U.
, 160 U. S.
The libel in this case was for a collision between the
Page 178 U. S. 320
and the New York.
The only questions
decided were as to the respective faults of the two vessels, and
the claim of the underwriters upon the Conemaugh's
that they were entitled to a recovery to the full amount of their
damages against the New York,
was also in fault for the collision. This claim
was sustained, and directions given to enter a decree in conformity
to the opinion of this Court. Such decree was entered, dividing the
damages between the two vessels, and awarding to the underwriters
of the cargo a full recovery against the New York.
be true that the decree holds the New York
seventy-six percent of the entire damages, and not fifty percent,
but this results from the fact that she was primarily held for the
entire value of the cargo. The equal division applied only to the
vessels, and, upon the other hand, if petitioner be entitled to the
recoupment claimed, it would apparently result in an affirmative
decree in its favor. But no question of recouping one-half of such
damages to the cargo from the moiety of damages awarded the
was made by counsel or passed upon by this
Court. It is now insisted that, under the cases of The
Chattahoochee, 173 U. S. 540
The Albert Dumois, 177 U. S. 240
this should have been done. This may be so, but it is an entirely
new question, quite unaffected by the case of the New
and if the court erred in refusing to allow such
recoupment, the remedy is by appeal, and not by mandamus. Perhaps a
mandamus might lie to review the allowance of interest, but that
may also be considered on appeal.
No disobedience of the mandate having been shown, the petition