Annotate this Case
189 U.S. 363 (1903)
U.S. Supreme Court
The Conemaugh, 189 U.S. 363 (1903)
Argued December 2, 1902
Decided March 9, 1903
189 U.S. 363
1. In 175 U. S. 175 U.S. 187 and 178 U. S. 178 U.S. 317, this Court held that the collision between the Conemaugh and the New York in the Detroit River was the fault of both vessels, and judgment was given in favor of the Conemaugh for one-half of her damages less one-half of the damages of the New York.
In this proceeding held that the New York, against which judgments had been entered for damages to the cargo on the Conemaugh, could not in this action recoup or set off any part of such damages against, or shift any part of such judgment upon, the owners of the Conemaugh, even though it should result in the New York's paying more than fifty percent of the total loss.
2. The mandate having provided for interest at the same rate that decrees bear in the courts of the Michigan, there was no error in view of the statutory provisions as to interest in Michigan, in computing the interest at seven percent per annum.
The steamer Conemaugh, owned by respondents, and the propeller New York, owned by the petitioner, collided in the Detroit River, November 11, 1891. The Conemaugh, for herself and as bailee of her cargo, filed a libel against the New York for the sum of $70,000 damages in the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Subsequently, certain underwriters of the cargo of the Conemaugh filed an intervening petition in the cause. Subsequently, the New York, for damages sustained by her, filed a cross-libel against the Conemaugh for $3,000 damages sustained by the New York in the collision. No answer was filed to this cross-libel.
The district court held the New York to have been solely in fault, and passed a decree against her. The Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the decree of the district court on the ground that the Conemaugh had been solely in fault, and adjudged that her owners pay the owners of the New York, petitioners here, the damages sustained by the New York. The case was then brought here by certiorari, and both vessels were pronounced to have been in fault. The decrees of the lower courts were reversed, and the damages caused by the collision ordered to be divided. The following is the material part of the judgment and mandate:
"On consideration whereof, it is now ordered, adjudged, and decreed by this Court that the decree of the said United States circuit court of appeals in the cause be and the same is hereby reversed; the claimant of the Conemaugh and the claimant of the New York each to pay one-half of all costs in this cause."
"And that the said Erie & Western Transportation Company recover against the Union Steamboat Company $276.75 for one-half of the costs herein expended, and have execution therefor."
"And it is further ordered that this cause be, and the same is hereby, remanded to the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Michigan with direction to enter a decree in conformity with the opinion of this court, with interest
from July 3, 1896, until paid at the same rate per annum that decrees bear in the courts of the State of Michigan."
Upon the return of the case to the district court, that court made its decree in favor of the several intervening underwriters upon the cargo for their respective claims, with interest at seven percent from July 3, 1896. The court also decreed that the owners of the cargo and their underwriters, other than the interveners, by reason of the collision, sustained damages in the sum of $19,627.67, "for which the said Erie & Western Transportation Company appears in this suit as trustee only." And it was adjudged and decreed
"that said trustee recover from the said Union Steamboat Company and its surety, in trust, for the said owners of and underwriters on cargo, the aforesaid sum of $19,627.67, with interest thereon at the rate of seven percent per annum from July 3, 1896, until paid, and that it have execution therefor."
Judgment was also given in favor of the Conemaugh for one-half of the damages of that steamer, less one-half of the damages of the New York, with interest.
At the hearing in the district court on the return of the mandate, the petitioner
"submitted a decree to the effect that both vessels were in fault for the collision, and that the damage 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 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, etc."
"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."
The action of the district court was affirmed by the circuit court of appeals, 108 F. 102, and the case was then brought here.
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