135 U.S. 599 (1890), The Eclipse

Citation:135 U.S. 599, 10 S.Ct. 873, 34 L.Ed. 269
Party Name:REA et al. v. THE ECLIPSE, (BRAITHWAITE, Claimant.)
Case Date:May 19, 1890
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 599

135 U.S. 599 (1890)

10 S.Ct. 873, 34 L.Ed. 269

REA et al.



United States Supreme Court.

May 19, 1890

Appeal from the supreme court of the territory of Dakota.

[10 S.Ct. 873] Robinson, Rea & Co., Kay, McKnight & Co., A. W. Cadman & Co., and Joseph McC. Biggert filed their libel in admiralty in the district court of the third judicial district of the territory of Dakota, April 7, 1881, against the steam-boat Eclipse, her tackle, apparel, and furniture, and against all persons intervening for their interest therein, in a cause of possession, civil and maritime, alleging--'first, that they are the majority of the owners of the steam-boat Eclipse, her tackle, apparel, and furniture, and,

Page 600

being such owners, on or about the 10th day of March, 1881, appointed one William Braith waite master of said vessel, to navigate and sail her for them, at the wages agreed upon between him and the said owners, and the said William Braithwaite continued to be such master until the 4th day of April, 1881, when the libelants removed him as master and appointed another as master in his place;second, that when the new master so appointed by libelants went on board said vessel, by their orders, to enter upon his duties as such master, the said William Braithwaite refused to give up the possession of the papers of said vessel to the said master or to the libelants, who have demanded the same, to the great damage of the libelants.' Process was prayed against the vessel and Braithwaite, and was issued accordingly, returnable on the first Tuesday of June then next. On the 15th of April, 1881, Braithwaite intervened as a claimant of the boat as 'trustee, one of the owners, and master,' averring that he was 'managing owner and master of said steamer, and is entitled to the possession and command thereof, and that no other person is entitled to the possession or command thereof.' The libel was amended by stating that 'the said Robinson, Rea & Co. owns a twenty-five hundred dollar interest in said steam-boat; the said Kay, McKnight & Co., four hundred and fifty dollar interest in said steamboat; the said Joseph McC. Biggert, a twenty-five hundred dollar interest in said steam-boat; the said A. W. Cadman & Co., a one hundred dollar interest in said steam-boat; that the only other person having an interest in said steam-boat is Wm. Braithwaite, who owns a twenty-five hundred dollar interest in said steamboat.' Braithwaite filed an answer and exception on the 6th of May. On the 4th of June the marshal returned that he had attached the boat under the process on the day it was issued, and that on the same day one Joseph Leighton put in a claim to the boat, and with the consent of the libelants, and upon Leighton's executing a stipulation of the value of $12,000, that

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being the amount agreed upon between him and libelants, he had delivered the boat to Leighton. On the 25th of May, 1881, Leighton and Jordan filed their claim in intervention as purchasers under a bill of sale, bearing date March 31, 1881, and prayed for a decree directing Braithwaite to execute a bill of sale of the Eclipse, and to deliver it and the papers of the steam-boat to them, and on his refusal that all his interest in the boat be transferred to them, and for costs, and such other relief as a court of admiralty is competent to give.

The cause was heard upon the pleadings and proofs, and the district court made its findings of fact and conclusion of law as follows: 'First. That the steamer Eclipse, at the time of the commencement of this action, was within the third judicial district of Dakota territory. Second. That on February 4, 1880, the claimant, William Braithwaite, and libelants, with the exception of Joseph McC. Biggert, made and entered into an agreement in writing as set forth in the fourth allegation in claimant's answer. Third. That subsequent to the execution of that agreement by the claimant a further clause was added, substituting the name of Joseph McC. Biggert for that of John D. Biggert, which was signed by all parties to the agreement except the claimant. Fourth. That subsequent to the execution of the agreement the parties paid in eight thousand and fifty dollars, and no more, in amounts as follows:

Capt. W. Braithwaite .. $2,500 00
John D. Biggert ........ 2,500 00
Robinson, Rea & Co...... 2,500 00
Cadman & Co............... 100 00
Kay, McKnight & Co........ 450 00
--Fifth. That in pursuance of that agreement the claimant went from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Bismarck, D. T., in February, 1880, to be present when the said steamer Eclipse should be offered for sale by the [10 S.Ct. 874] United States marshal; and on the 18th day of Page 602 February, 1880, the United States marshal sold said steamer at public auction at the port of Bismarck, and claimant bid her in, under and in...

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