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U.S. Supreme Court

McCall v. Marine Insurance Company, 12 U.S. 8 Cranch 59 59 (1814)

McCall v. Marine Insurance Company

12 U.S. (8 Cranch) 59


If a policy insures against "unlawful arrests, restraints and detainments of all kings, princes," &c., the qualification "unlawful," extends in its operation as well to "restraints and detainments" as to "arrests," and in such case a detainment by a force lawfully blockading a port is not a peril insured against by a policy containing a warranty of neutrality.

This was an action on a policy underwritten by the defendants upon all kinds of lawful goods and merchandise on board the ship Cordelia on a voyage from the Island of Teneriffe to Surabaya and at and from chanrobles.com-red

Page 12 U. S. 60

thence to Philadelphia, warranted American property. The ship sailed on the voyage on 5 April, 1811, having on board a cargo of lawful goods, the property of the plaintiffs, of the value of $15,000, and pursued the voyage until 18 July following, when, being in a place called Madura Bay, within about twelve hours sail of Surabaya, she was boarded by an officer of a British frigate, forming one of a squadron then actually blockading the port of Surabaya and all the other ports of the islands of Java and Madura. The frigate took possession of the Cordelia and conducted her to the admiral commanding the blockading squadron, who on the next day dismissed the Cordeila after endorsing her papers and warning the master not to enter the port of Surabaya or any other port in the Island of Java or of the Island of Madura on pain of capture. On the same day, the Cordelia made another attempt to enter Surabaya, but was chased by the same British frigate, and taken possession of a second time. After being detained two days, the Cordelia was again released and the master was ordered to depart instantly from the coast of Java and the neighborhood of Surabaya upon penalty of capture and impressment of his men. The master, finding it impracticable to pursue his voyage further, resolved to return to Philadelphia, where he arrived on 19 November, 1811. At the time of sailing on the voyage from Teneriffe, the blockade of Java was unknown to the parties. The plaintiffs abandoned to the defendants immediately after the arrival of the Cordelia at Philadelphia, which gave them the first knowledge of the occurrences. The defendants refused to accept the abandonment.

The policy contained the usual risks, except that the word "unlawful" was printed before "arrests," so that the clause stood, "unlawful arrests, restraints, and detainments of all kings, princes, or people of what nation, condition, or quality soever." The declaration alleges that the ship and cargo were, during the voyage,

"by persons acting under the authority of the British government and by a certain ship of war belonging to that government unlawfully seized, restrained, and detained,"

and thereby become totally lost.

The circuit court directed the jury, that on this chanrobles.com-red

Page 12 U. S. 61

state of facts, the plaintiffs were not in law entitled to recover, to which the plaintiffs excepted and brought this writ of error. chanrobles.com-red

Page 12 U. S. 65


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