U.S. Supreme Court
The Richmond, 103 U.S. 540 (1880)
103 U.S. 540
1. Where, in a case in admiralty, the decree below, determining the liability of the respective vessels in a collision was rendered before the Act of Feb. 18, 1875, c. 77, 18 Stat., pt. 3, p. 315, took effect, this Court, the case being properly here on appeal, will reexamine the evidence and, if the appellant does not show that in the concurring action of the courts below error was committed to his prejudice, the decree will be affirmed.
2. Where, after such a decree and the taking effect of that act, the ascertainment of the amount of damages sustained by the vessel not in fault was referred to a master, the action of the circuit court upon exceptions to his report, all of which relate to questions of fact, will not be reviewed here.
This was a libel filed by Shirley and others, owners of the steamboat Sabine. They allege, in substance, that between two and three o'clock of the morning of Feb. 11, 1872, while she was descending the Mississippi River about twelve miles above New Orleans, the steamer Richmond ran into and sunk her; that the collision was owing entirely to the gross and culpable negligence of the officers and pilot of the Richmond, and that the libellants suffered damages to the sum of $37,500.
The owners of the Richmond filed an answer and cross-libel, claiming $12,000 damages.
The Merchants' Mutual Insurance Company filed its libel against the Richmond and the Sabine, alleging that it chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanroblesvirtualawlibrary
had insured the cargo of the Sabine, and paid a large sum on the policy, and that both vessels were at fault.
Other intervenors appeared and filed their respective libels.
The suits were consolidated. The district court dismissed the libel April 14, 1873. An appeal was prayed for and allowed to the circuit court, which adjudged and decreed, April 19, 1875, that the libel of the Sabine be dismissed with costs; that the Richmond recover of the Sabine all damages the Richmond suffered by the collision; that the libel of the Merchants' Mutual Insurance Company against the Sabine and the Richmond be dismissed as to the Richmond; and that said company and intervenors have judgment against N. C. Selby, master of the steamer Sabine, for all damages sustained by the company by reason of said collision, with privilege on any balance of the proceeds in the registry arising from the sale of the Sabine.
It was further ordered that it be referred to J. W. Gurley, United States commissioner, to ascertain and report the damage sustained by the Richmond, the Merchants' Mutual Insurance Company, and the intervenors. He reported June 4, 1875, that the Richmond had sustained damages in the sum of $7,392.60. He subsequently filed a report of the losses of the Merchants' Mutual Insurance Company and of the various insurance companies, subrogees of the individual intervenors.
The court, March 11, 1876, confirmed the report and condemned the sureties on the bond of the Sabine to pay the amount for which they respectively bound themselves. The owners of the Sabine and the various insurance companies prayed an appeal from the decrees of the circuit court.
The insurance companies who claimed to be subrogated to the rights of the individual intervenors filed no new pleadings.