Shelton v. The Collector,
72 U.S. 113 (1866)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Shelton v. The Collector, 72 U.S. 5 Wall. 113 113 (1866)

Shelton v. The Collector

72 U.S. (5 Wall.) 113


1. Where merchandise receives damages during a voyage, proof to ascertain the damage must be lodged at the custom house of the port where the goods are landed within ten days after the landing.

2. The damages must be ascertained before the goods are entered.

Shelton & Co. -- the plaintiffs in error, who were also the plaintiffs below -- imported a quantity of molasses from the island of Cuba into the port of Boston. At the time of the

Page 72 U. S. 114

exportation from Cuba, it was sound and sweet. Upon reaching Boston it was soured, having become so during the voyage. There was a material difference between the value of sweet and sour molasses both at the port of exportation and the port of importation -- sweet molasses being of the greater value. The molasses in question was entered at the full value of sweet molasses. The plaintiffs demanded to have the damage appraised and allowed in the computation of duties. The defendant caused the damaged to be appraised, but afterwards (under instructions from the Secretary of the Treasury) refused to allow them, and duties were exacted by the defendant, and paid by the plaintiffs, under protest, upon the full value of the molasses.

It was agreed that if the court should be of opinion that damage by souring during the voyage of importation was a damage on the voyage within the meaning of the provision of the fifty-second section of the Act of March 2, 1799, judgment was to be entered for the plaintiffs -- otherwise for the defendant.

Upon this agreement, the court below gave judgment for the defendant, and this writ of error was prosecuted to reverse it.

The fifty-second section of the Act of March 2, 1799, above-mentioned, enacts:

"That all goods, wares, and merchandise of which entry shall have been made incomplete, or which shall have received damage during the voyage, to be ascertained by the proper officers of the port or district in which the said goods &c., shall arrive, shall be conveyed to some warehouse or storehouse to be designated by the collector, in the parcels or packages containing the same, there to remain at the expense and risk of the owner or consignee, under the care of some proper officer, until the particulars, cost, or value, as the case may require, shall have been ascertained, provided that no allowance for the damage on any goods, wares, and merchandise that have been entered, and on which the duties have been paid or secured to be paid and for which a permit has been granted to the owner or consignee thereof, shall be made unless proof to ascertain such damage

Page 72 U. S. 115

shall be lodged in the custom house &c., within ten days after the landing of such merchandise. [Footnote 1]"

As having a certain bearing on the subject, reference may be made also to the twenty-first section of an Act of March 1, 1823, as follows: [Footnote 2]

"That before any goods, wares, or merchandise which may be taken from any wreck shall be admitted to an entry, the same shall be appraised in the manner prescribed in the sixteenth section of this act, and the same proceedings shall be ordered and executed in all cases where a reduction of duties shall be claimed on account of damage which any goods, wares, or merchandise shall have sustained in the course of the voyage, and in all cases where the owner, importer, consignee, or agent shall be dissatisfied with such appraisement, he shall be entitled to the privileges provided in the eighteenth section of this act."

The manner of appraisement referred to as provided in the sixteenth section and the privileges provided in the eighteenth section were not material to the issue in this case.

Page 72 U. S. 116

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