283 F. 1015 (E.D.Va. 1922), The Snug Harbor

Citation:283 F. 1015
Party Name:THE SNUG HARBOR. v. SAME. EASTERN TRANSP. CO.v. UNITED STATES et al. DUKE et al.
Case Date:September 30, 1922
Court:United States District Courts, 4th Circuit, Eastern District of Virginia
 
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Page 1015

283 F. 1015 (E.D.Va. 1922)

THE SNUG HARBOR.

EASTERN TRANSP. CO.v. UNITED STATES et al.

DUKE et al.

v.

SAME.

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia.

September 30, 1922

Baird, White & Lanning, of Norfolk, Va., and Kirlin, Woolsey, Campbell, Hickox & Keating, of New York City (John M. Woolsey, of New York City, and Edward R. Baird, Jr., of Norfolk, Va., of counsel), for libelant Eastern Transp. Co.

Page 1016

H. H. Rumble, Sp. Asst. in Admiralty to U.S. Atty., of Norfolk, Va.

Blodgett, Jones, Burnham & Bingham, of Boston, Mass., and Hughes, Vandeventer & Eggleston, of Norfolk, Va., for respondent Seaboard Transp. Co.

GRONER, District Judge.

This is a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. Libelants claim against the United States, as owners of the steamship Snug Harbor, and the Seaboard Transportation Company, as owner of the barge Pottsville and the tug Covington. The Snug Harbor, a Shipping Board vessel, was sunk about 9:30 p.m. August 15, 1920, about 4 1/4 miles east by north from Montauk Point, as the result of a collision with the Pottsville, in tow of the Covington. The place of the sinking is alleged to be a frequented channel way within the inland waters of the United States, and the basis of liability is the alleged failure to mark the position of the wreck, or to remove the same, as a result of which two barges belonging to libelant came into contact with the wreck and were sunk, 29 days after the first collision and sinking.

It will thus be seen that the suit is brought upon the theory that the United States, by virtue of the Suits in Admiralty Act (41 Stat. 525), are brought within the provisions of the Act of March 3, 1899 (Comp. St. Sec. 9920), making it the duty of the owner of a vessel sunk in a navigable channel to immediately mark it with a buoy by day and a lighted lantern by night. The applicable parts of the act in question provide as follows:

'That no vessel owned by the United States * * * shall hereafter, in view of the provision herein made for a libel in personam, be subject to arrest or seizure by judicial process,' etc.

'That in cases where if such vessel were privately owned or operated * * * a proceeding in admiralty could be maintained at the time of the commencement of the action herein provided for, a libel in personam may be brought against the United States; * * * provided that...

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