15 F. 610 (E.D.Pa. 1883), The Harrisburg

Citation:15 F. 610
Party Name:THE HARRISBURG. [1]
Case Date:February 02, 1883
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

Page 610

15 F. 610 (E.D.Pa. 1883)


United States Circuit Court, E.D. Pennsylvania.

February 2, 1883

Appeal by the steamer Harrisburg from the decree of the district court awarding $5,100 damages against her upon a libel, filed by the widow and daughter of the late first officer of the schooner Tilton, whose drowning was caused by a collision.

The material facts are as follows:

Near the Cross Rip light-ship in Nantucket sound, a sound of the sea, embraced between the coast of Massachusetts and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, parts of Massachusetts, on the sixteenth of May, 1877, a collision occurred between the schooner Tilton and the steamer Harrisburg, which resulted in the loss of the schooner and the drowning of six of her crew.

A libel by the schooner was determined against the steamer, (9 F. 169,) and its liability for the consequences of the collision was not contested

Page 611

in the present proceeding. On February 25, 1882, Emma S. Rickards, and Mary E. Rickards, by her next friend, Emma S. Rickards, widow and daughter of Silas E. Rickards, deceased, late first officer of the schooner Tilton, filed a libel in rem against the steamer Harrisburg, for damages for his death, occasioned by the collision. The steamer was engaged in the coasting trade, and belonged to the port of Philadelphia, where she was enrolled.

No innocent rights to or in the steamer had arisen between the date of the collision and the exhibition of the libel, and it did not appear that any inconvenience resulted to the respondents by the laches of libelants.

The district court entered a decree in favor of the libelants, and damages were assessed at $5,100.

Curtis Tilton and Henry Flanders, for libelant.

Thomas Hart, Jr., for respondents.

In the admiralty courts of the United States and death of a human being upon the high seas, or waters navigable from the sea, caused by negligence, may be complained of as an injury, and the wrong redressed under the general maritime law. The Towanda, (Cir. Ct. Dis. Pa.) 23 Int.Rev.Rec. 384; 34 Leg.Int. 394; The Chas. Morgan, 18 Law Reg. 624; The Sea Gull, Chase, Dec. 148; The Highland Light, Id. 150; Cutting v. Seabury, 1 Spr. 525; Long Island Transp. Co. 5 F. 599; The Garland, Id. 984; Holmes v. O. & C.R. Co. Id. 75; The Sylvan Glen, 9 F. 335; The Favorite, 12 F. 213; The Epsilon, 6 Ben. 379; Taylor v. Dewar, 117 E.C.L. 63.

The rule of the common law that no redress can be had for such injuries is peculiar to that jurisprudence, and does not obtain in the admiralty. Sullivan v. Railroad Co. 3 Dill. 337; De Lovio v. Boit, 2 Gall. 472; The Chas. Morgan, 18 Law Reg. 624; Ben. Adm. 149. In The Towanda, decided in this circuit, the court said: 'While the weight of authority in common-law courts is, perhaps, in favor of the principle, it has not been adopted with uniform sanction even by them,' and declaring that 'the question is one of general...

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