U.S. Supreme Court
Knott v. Botany Mills, 179 U.S. 69 (1900)
Knott v. Botany Mills
Argued October 12-13, 1899
Decided October 22, 1900
179 U.S. 69
Bales of wool were stowed on a steamship, with proper dunnage, between decks and forward of a temporary wooden bulkhead. At a subsequent port, wet sugar (from which there is always drainage) was stowed aft of that bulkhead, with proper dunnage but without any provision for carrying off the drainage in case it ran forward. The ship was then down by the stern, and all drainage from the sugar was carried off by the scuppers. At a third port, other cargo was discharged, so as to trim the vessel two feet by the head, and the drainage from the sugar found its way through the bulkhead and damaged the wool through negligence of those in charge of the ship and cargo. Held: that the damage to the wool was through fault in the proper loading or stowage of the cargo, within section 1 of the Act of February 13, 1893, c. 105, known as the Harter Act, and not from fault in the navigation or management of the vessel within section 3 of that act.
The words, in section 1 of the Harter Act, "any vessel transporting merchandise or property from or between ports of the United States and foreign ports," include a foreign vessel transporting merchandise from a foreign port to a port of the United States, and such a vessel and its owner are therefore liable for negligence in proper loading or stowage of the cargo, notwithstanding any stipulations in the bill of lading that they shall be exempt from liability for such negligence and that the contract shall be governed by the law of the ship's flag.
The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.