43 N.Y. 52, Sheppard v. Steele

Citation:43 N.Y. 52
Party Name:WILLIAM SHEPPARD, Respondent, v. JOHN T. STEELE, STEPHEN H. MILLS, CHARLES C. MORE, Administrator, and SARAH C. MORE, Administratrix, of WILLIAM C. MORE, Deceased, Appellants.
Case Date:October 25, 1870
Court:New York Court of Appeals

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43 N.Y. 52



JOHN T. STEELE, STEPHEN H. MILLS, CHARLES C. MORE, Administrator, and SARAH C. MORE, Administratrix, of WILLIAM C. MORE, Deceased, Appellants.

New York Court of Appeal

October 25, 1870

Argued Oct. 19th, 1870.

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S. L. Stebbins, for the appellants, upon the point that the act of 1862 was unconstitutional and void, as encroaching on the jurisdiction of the federal courts, cited In re Josephine (39 New York, 19); 1 Conkling's Adm., 73; Burrill's Law Dict., "Material Men"; Harper v. The New Brig (1 Gilpin, 536); Benedict's Adm., § 264; De Loiro v. Boit (2 Gall., 466, 467, 475); The General Smith, 4 Wheaton, 438, 443; Ferran v. Hosford (54 Barb., 200); Wynehamer v. People (3 Kern., 378, 487).Upon the point that the statute is unconstitutional, as contravening the right of trial by jury, and depriving persons of property without due process of law, he cited 35 N.Y. 302; 2 Seld., 358, 366; 4 Hill, 140; 14 Barb., 425; 3 Park. Cr., 544; 39 N.Y. 171; Veltman v. Thompson (3 Comst., 438); The Belfast, 7 Wall., 644; Const. of 1846, art. 1, § § 2, 6; Const., of 1821, art. 7, § § 2, 7; Trust v. Pierson (1 Hilton, 292, 295); Ferran v. Hosford (54 Barb., 200); Caldwell v. Colgate (7 Barb., 253). As to the application of Fox's payments to the plaintiff, he cited Pattison v. Hull (9 Cow., 747, 775); Dows v. Morewood (10 Barb., 183).

F. L. Westbrook, for the respondent, upon the point of validity of the statute, cited Ferry Co. v. Beers (20 How., U.S. 393); McGuire v. The Goliah (21 How., U.S. 248); Foster v. Busteed (100 Mass., 409); The ship Francis Palmer, MS. Opn. of Justice NELSON; The Belfast, 7 Wall., 624 to 646; Com. v. Hitchings (5 Gray); Comm. v. Clapp (Id. 100); People v. Toynbee (3 Kern., 441); Fisher v. McGirr (1 Gray, 21); In re Joseph E. Caffe (Olcott, 401, 404); Hancox v. Dunning (6 Hill, 494).That in this case there was no necessity of filing specifications under the statute, he cited Delaney v. Brett (4 Robt., 712) Matter of Tilton, 19 Abb., 50;

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Franklin v. Pendleton (3 Sand., 572); Ring v. Gibbs (26 Wend., 502).As to the payments and their application, he cited Happy v. Mosher (47 Barb., 501); Andrews v. Durant (11 N.Y. 35); Dow v. Austin (20 N.Y. 181); Dow v. Austin (25 Barb., 26); Allen v. Culver (3 Den., 284); Marsh v. Bank (34 Barb., 298).


In 1866 one Fox, at his shipyard in South Rondout, in Ulster county, built the hull of a vessel, for Steele and others, the appellants. Sheppard, the plaintiff did the blacksmith work on the vessel. For his claim of that work, he assumed that he had a lien on the vessel, by virtue of the statute of this State, entitled "An act to provide for the collection of demands against ships and vessels; " passed April 24th, 1862. He took proceedings under that act, and by virtue of a warrant issued by the county judge of Ulster county, he seized the vessel. The appellant gave a bond, under the act, for the discharge of the vessel. In the action brought by Sheppard on that bond against the appellants, they raised the question that the act of 1862, is in conflict with the federal Constitution, and on that question with others, the case is brought here. The appellants rely upon the decision of this court, In the matter of the Steamboat Josephine (39 N.Y. 19). It was there held, that so far as relates to a maritime contract, the Constitution of the United States, declaring that the judicial power of the United States, shall extend to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; and the judiciary act of congress approved 24th September, 1789, conferring upon the federal courts exclusive jurisdiction in all admiralty and maritime causes; render unconstitutional and void this act of the legislature.

That was the case of a domestic vessel, which was enrolled at the custom house in New York city, and her home port was there. She was engaged in traffic between that port and Monmouth county, New Jersey. The claim against her was for supplies furnished her at the home port. It was sought to be enforced in rem, in the courts of this State. It

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was decided in that case, that the claim was on a maritime contract, that there was no lien for the claim under the maritime law, which could be enforced in rem, in a court of admiralty; that where a statute gives such a lien, courts of admiralty will not enforce it; but that the courts of admiralty had jurisdiction in a suit in personam to enforce payment of this claim for supplies; that having such jurisdiction it was exclusive, except such concurrent remedy as is given by the common law; and that the proceedings taken in the case, in the courts of this State, could not be enforced. And the statute above referred to, was pronounced in conflict with the Constitution of the United States, and its judiciary act. That decision is placed upon the facts appearing in that case. It holds that in such a case as they show, the act of 1862, can give no right to the State courts to act, inasmuch, as so far, it is inoperative. But those facts make a case quite different from that before us. The claim there, was for supplies furnished to a vessel, engaged in the prosecution of the business for which she was built and owned. It was a maritime contract, and fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the admiralty courts. The claim here, is for labor upon the hull of a vessel, while in the process of construction, before launching, while yet on the land. This is not a maritime contract. It is one relating to a subject on the land, and it is to be performed on the land. The admiralty courts have no jurisdiction for its enforcement. (Foster v. The Richard Busteed, 100 Mass., 409; Ferry Company v. Beers, 20 How. U.S. 393.) And though the act of 1862 is held by the case in 39 N.Y. to be unconstitutional and void in relation to particular cases covered by its terms, it may yet be valid to all intents and purposes in its application to other cases within the scope of its provisions, but varying from the...

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