359 U.S. 180 (1959), 178, The Monrosa v. Carbon Black Export, Inc.

Docket Nº:No. 178
Citation:359 U.S. 180, 79 S.Ct. 710, 3 L.Ed.2d 723
Party Name:The Monrosa v. Carbon Black Export, Inc.
Case Date:March 30, 1959
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 180

359 U.S. 180 (1959)

79 S.Ct. 710, 3 L.Ed.2d 723

The Monrosa

v.

Carbon Black Export, Inc.

No. 178

United States Supreme Court

March 30, 1959

Argued March 3-4, 1959

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Respondent, a Delaware corporation, brought a libel in admiralty in a Federal District Court in Texas for damage to a shipment of goods during an ocean voyage from Houston and New Orleans to various Italian ports. The libel was in rem against the ship, then in the port of Houston on another voyage, and in personam against its owner, an Italian corporation. After requiring a bond to secure whatever judgment might finally be rendered, the District Court declined jurisdiction on the ground that the parties had agreed by a provision in the bill of lading that controversies regarding cargo damage should be settled only in the courts of Genoa, Italy. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding the provision in the bill of lading inapplicable to libels in rem and declining to enforce its terms as to the libel in personam.

Held:

1. The bill of lading provision cannot be construed to include libels in rem, and, accordingly, the libel in rem was properly maintainable. Pp. 182-183.

2. This case does not afford an appropriate instance to pass upon the extent to which effect can be given to such stipulations in ocean bills of lading not to resort to the courts of this country, and the writ of certiorari is dismissed as improvidently granted. Pp. 183-184.

254 F.2d 297, writ of certiorari dismissed.

Page 181

BRENNAN, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

The respondent, Carbon Black Export, Inc., a Delaware corporation, brought a libel in admiralty in the District Court for the Southern District of Texas for damage sustained to a shipment of carbon black during an ocean voyage from Houston and New Orleans to various Italian ports. The libel was one in rem against the vessel in question, the S.S. Monrosa, then in the port of Houston on another voyage, and in personam against the Monrosa's owner, Navigazione Alta Italia, an Italian corporation. The latter filed an appearance in response to the libel in personam, and, as owner of the vessel, filed a claim to it, and prayed to defend the libel in rem. In respect to the libel in rem, a stipulation to abide the decree, in the penal sum of [79 S.Ct. 712] $100,000, was filed by the claimant and the National Surety Company, its surety, and approved by the present respondent. Navigazione Alta Italia then moved that the District Court decline jurisdiction over the cause on the grounds that the parties had agreed, by a provision in the bills of lading covering the shipment, that controversies in regard to cargo damage should be settled only in the courts of Genoa, Italy. The District Court granted the motion, subject to the filing of a bond by Navigazione Alta Italia in the sum of $100,000 to respond to whatever judgment might finally be rendered on the cause...

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