Annotate this Case
196 U.S. 589 (1905)
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U.S. Supreme Court
The Germanic, 196 U.S. 589 (1905)
Argued January 13, 16, 1905
Decided February 20, 1905
196 U.S. 589
A foreign vessel from Liverpool arrived at its destination, New York, and made fast to the wharf. Owing to unusual gales and weather, she was heavily weighted with snow and ice and made top-heavy. While the cargo was being unloaded, she suddenly rolled over and sank, damaging the cargo remaining in her, some of which had been shipped from points east of Liverpool on bills of lading to Liverpool, thence to be forwarded to New York, and containing certain exemptions of the carrier from liability. The owners and insurers of cargo libelled the vessel; it was found by the district court and the circuit court of appeals that the damage was due to negligence in unloading cargo, and ruled that the negligence fell within section one of the Harter Act, and not within section three of the same, as negligence in the navigation or management of the vessel. Held that:
This Court will not go behind the findings of the two courts as to negligence, and that the rule was correct.
When a case may fall under section one and section three of the Harter Act, the question which section is to govern must be determined by the primary nature and object of the acts which cause the loss.
Semble. The standard of conduct is external, and not merely coextensive with the judgment of the individual.
The Harter Act will be applied to foreign vessels in suits brought in the United States, and where claimants set up and rely upon the act, they must take the burden with the benefits, and cannot claim a greater limitation of liability under provisions of bills of lading.
The facts are stated in the opinion.