U.S. Supreme Court
Seeberger v. Wright & Lawther Co., 157 U.S. 183 (1895)
Seeberger v. Wright and Lawther Oil
and Lead Manufacturing Company
Argued and submitted January 31, 1895
Decided March 18, 1895
157 U.S. 183
An importer of flaxseed containing an ascertainable percentage of impurities composed of clay, sand, and gravel is entitled to an allowance of that percentage in assessing duties upon the gross weight of the goods.
This was an action against the collector of customs for the port and district of Chicago to recover certain duties paid under protest upon an importation of flaxseed which contained four percent of impurities. The only question in the case was whether the importers were entitled to an allowance, from the gross weight of the goods, of a percentage for impurities.
The case was tried without a jury under a stipulation, and the following facts found by the court:
"Plaintiff imported a quantity of flaxseed from Liverpool, which had been brought from Calcutta. The invoices show the gross weight and a tare of five pounds per bag, and a deduction of 'four percent for impurities.' The collector, in assessing the duties, deducted the tare, which was the weight of the bags, but refused to allow anything for impurities, assessing a duty of twenty cents per bushel of fifty-six pounds upon the gross weight, less the tare. Plaintiff paid the duties so assessed under protest, appealed to the Secretary of the Treasury, by whom the action of the collector was affirmed,
and brought this suit in apt time to recover the excess of duties paid by reason of the refusal to make any deduction for impurities."
"The proof in this case shows without dispute that the seed contained dust, composed of day, sand, and gravel, to an average of four percent."
Upon this finding of facts, the court entered judgment for the plaintiff, assessing its damages at $670.29, with interest. Defendant sued out this writ of error.