U.S. Supreme Court
In re Morrison, 147 U.S. 14 (1893)
In re Morrison
Nos. 8, 9, Original
Argued December 12-13, 1892
Decided January 3, 1893
147 U.S. 14
A collision occurred, in Vineyard Sound, between the steam yacht A. at anchor, owned by V. of New York, and the steamship D., owned by a Massachusetts corporation. The A. sank. The corporation filed a libel against V., to limit its liability, in the District Court for Massachusetts, under §§ 4283 and 4284 of the Revised Statutes, alleging that the D. was lying at Boston, and averring too negligence in the D., and negligence in the A. and praying for an appraisement of the value of the D. and her pending freight at the time of the collision, and offering to give a stipulation therefor. It was alleged that the A. was worth over $250,000, and that the value of the D. and her freight was less than $150,000. The court appointed three appraisers, who made the appraisement ex parte, and reported the value of the D. at $80,000 and of her freight at $2395.33, and a stipulation was given for those amounts. A monition was then issued for notice to V. and all persons concerned to prove their claims for loss by a day named. The monition was duly published but was not personally served on V. in the Massachusetts District. The court made an order enjoining v. and all other persons from suing the corporation chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
or the D. in respect of any claims arising out of the collision "except in these proceedings." Afterwards, M., the master of the A., filed a libel in the District Court for the Southern District of New York against the corporation, the D., V., and all persons claiming damages from the collision, for apportionment of limited liability, charging the fault wholly on the D., alleging that the loss of V. was $305,000, and that of M. over $1300, and that the value of the D. was over $200,000. Under process, the D. was attached, and it was served on the corporation, and V. duly appeared On motion of the D. and the corporation, the District Court in New York, on a hearing of all parties, made an order vacating the process issued on the libel of M., setting aside the service thereof on the corporation, releasing the D. from the attachment, and dismissing the libel. The court held that M. had notice, before he filed his libel, of the proceedings in Massachusetts and of the injunction order issued there. On applications by M. to this Court for a mandamus to the District Court in New York to vacate its order and reinstate the libel of M. and for a prohibition to the District Court in Massachusetts from proceeding further on the libel filed there,
(1) The District Court in New York dismissed the libel of M. on a hearing on the merits.
(2) If the jurisdiction of that court was in issue before it, the remedy of M. was by a direct appeal to this Court, on that question, under § 5 of the Act of March 3, 1591, c. 517, 26 Stat. 827.
(3) If otherwise, the remedy of M., as against the order dismissing the libel, was by an appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit under § 6 of the same act.
(4) The mandamus is refused.
(5) The District Court in Massachusetts acquired prime jurisdiction of the proceedings
(6) That court did not lose its jurisdiction by the fact that the D. subsequently went to New York.
(7) In order to sustain the proceeding, it was not necessary that M. or V. should have been personally served with notice thereof within the District of Massachusetts, or that the D. should have been taken and held by the Massachusetts Court.
(5) The filing of the libel by the corporation, with the offer of a stipulation, gave jurisdiction, and no subsequent irregularity in procedure could take it away.
(9) The ex parte appraisement was not void.
(10) The District Court in Massachusetts can order the giving of a new or further stipulation, and, on a failure to comply with such order, can stay the further proceedings of the corporation, deny it all relief, and dismiss its libel.
(11) The provision of Rule 54 in Admiralty, for the giving of a stipulation, instead of making a transfer to a trustee, is valid, and the value involved may be judicially ascertained primarily without a hearing of the persons interested adversely. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
On the 17th of October, 1892, two applications were made to the Court on behalf of Henry Morrison, the first for leave to file a petition for a writ of mandamus directed to the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York, the second for leave to file a petition for a writ of prohibition directed to the District Court of Massachusetts. Leave being granted, these petitions were filed, argument was had, and the petitions were both denied. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court chanroblesvirtualawlibrary