237 U.S. 303 (1915), 669, Rounds v. Cloverport Foundry & Machine Company

Docket Nº:No. 669
Citation:237 U.S. 303, 35 S.Ct. 596, 59 L.Ed. 966
Party Name:Rounds v. Cloverport Foundry & Machine Company
Case Date:April 19, 1915
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 303

237 U.S. 303 (1915)

35 S.Ct. 596, 59 L.Ed. 966



Cloverport Foundry & Machine Company

No. 669

United States Supreme Court

April 19, 1915

Submitted February 23, 1915




In an action in personam, the state court has jurisdiction to issue an auxiliary attachment against the vessel whether or not the contract be of a maritime nature.

While a proceeding in rem, as one essentially against the vessel itself, is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the admiralty, an action in personam with concurrent remedy of attachment to secure payment of a personal judgment is within the jurisdiction of the state court even though such attachment, if auxiliary to the remedy in personam, runs specifically against the vessel under a state statute providing for a lien.

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A specific attachment in a suit against the owners of a vessel for repairs made thereto, under the lien provision of §§ 2480-2486, Kentucky Statutes, held to be an auxiliary lien attachment in a suit in personam to protect the judgment, and not a proceeding in rem, and the case was therefore within the jurisdiction of the state court.

159 Ky. 414 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the construction and validity of the laws of the Kentucky relating to liens on vessels for repairs and the jurisdiction of the state court to enforce such liens, are stated in the opinion.

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HUGHES, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Cloverport Foundry & Machine Company, the defendant in error, brought this suit against F. T. Rounds and S. A. Jesse, of Owensboro, Kentucky, in the Breckinridge Circuit Court of that state, to recover the sum of $5,668.65 for work and materials furnished under a contract to repair and rebuild a steamboat formerly known as the "R. D. Kendall," and renamed the "Golden Girl." The defendants were the owners of the vessel. A specific attachment was issued under §§ 2480 to 2486 of the Kentucky Statutes, which provided for a lien upon watercraft for work and supplies, etc., and the defendants procured a release of the boat by executing a forthcoming bond. By special demurrer, the defendants challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the action upon the ground that the subject matter was exclusively cognizable in the admiralty. The demurrer was overruled, and the defendants, reasserting the absence of authority in the court, answered, denying the allegations of the petition and setting up a counterclaim for damages alleged to have been caused by defective work and by delay in completion. Upon the trial, the counterclaim was dismissed and the company had judgment against the defendants for the amount demanded in its petition; it was further adjudged that, by virtue of the attachment and the applicable law, the plaintiff had a lien upon the vessel [35 S.Ct. 597] for the payment of the judgment, and the vessel was ordered to be sold and the proceeds applied to the debt. The court of appeals of the state affirmed the judgment. 159 Ky. 414.

The question presented on this writ of error relates solely to the jurisdiction of the state court. It is contended by the plaintiffs in error that the contract in suit was for repairs on the vessel, and therefore was maritime in character; that the proceeding was in rem and beyond the

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competency of the local tribunal. See The Moses Taylor, 4 Wall. 411; The Hine v. Trevor, 4 Wall. 555; The Belfast, 7 Wall. 624; The J. E. Rumbell, 148 U.S. 1; The Glide, 167 U.S. 606; The Robert W. Parsons, 191 U.S. 17; Act of June 23, 1910, c. 373, 36 Stat. 604. On the other hand, the defendant in error denies that the contract was maritime, contending that the old boat was dismantled, its identity destroyed, and a new boat built, and that the case in this aspect falls within the decisions relating to contracts...

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