122 F. 112 (S.D.Ala. 1903), 1,012, The Blackheath

Docket Nº:1,012.
Citation:122 F. 112
Case Date:April 03, 1903
Court:United States District Courts, 11th Circuit, Southern District of Alabama

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122 F. 112 (S.D.Ala. 1903)


No. 1,012.

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama.

April 3, 1903

M. D. Wickersham, U.S. Atty.

R. H. & N. R. Clarke, for claimant.

TOULMIN, District Judge.

This is a libel in rem to recover damages for the destruction of a structure, and beacon or channel light constructed thereon, in the Bay of Mobile, caused from collision by said steamship. A witness for the libelants was introduced, who testified as to the character and construction of the structure on which the beacon light was placed, and where it was situated in the waters of the river or bay of Mobile; whereupon the claimant moved the court to dismiss the libel on the ground that the court had no jurisdiction of the subject-matter of the suit.

In matters of tort the jurisdiction in admiralty depends upon the locality of the thing injured. The locus of the damage, and not the locus of the origin of the tort, is the real test of admiralty jurisdiction. Hermann v. Port Blakely Mill Co. (D.C.) 69 F. 646; The Mary Garrett (D.C.) 63 F. 1009, and authorities therein cited. In the case of The Professor Morse (D.C.) 23 F. 803, it was held that an injury to a marine railway was not a maritime tort, although it extended out into the river for a long distance under the water, with one end resting on or near the bottom of the river, because the marine

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railway was not a floating structure. In the case of City of Milwaukee v. The Curtis et al. (D.C.) 37 F. 705, the court, speaking in reference to a swing bridge resting on a pier constructed on the bed of the river, and which was damaged by the negligent conduct of vessels navigating the river, said:

'The cause of the injury was a movable thing navigating the waters, but the consummation of the wrong was upon an immovable structure above the waters, attached to the land, and not afloat. The absence of admiralty jurisdiction over injuries to such structures is sustained by an overwhelming weight of authority.'

And in the case of The Maud Webster, Fed. Cas. No. 9,302, Judge Blatchford held that a derrick resting on the soil of the bottom of a river, and in the midst of the water, which was injured by a vessel colliding with it, was not a case of admiralty jurisdiction. There are many other decisions to the same effect.

The law is well settled that no action can be maintained in admiralty...

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