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Statement of the Case.
RICHELIEU AND ONTARIO NAVIGATION COMPANY v. BOSTON MARINE INSURANCE COMPANY.
Where a policy of marine insurance excepts losses and perils occasioned by
want of ordinary care and skill in navigation, or by want of seaworthiness, and a statute of the country to which the insured vessel belongs requires all vessels to go at a moderate speed in a fog, and the insured vessel, having a defective compass, is stranded wbile going at full speed in a fog, and a loss ensues, the burden of proof is on the insured to show that neither the speed at which the vessel was running nor the defect in
the compass could have caused, or contributed to cause, the stranding. The exception in a marine policy of losses occasioned by unseaworthiness
is, in effect, a warranty that a loss shall not be so occasioned, and it is therefore immaterial whether a defect in the compass of the vessel which amounts to unseaworthiness was or was not known before the
loss. When in a policy of marine insurance it is provided that acts of the insurers
or their agents in recovering, saving and preserving the property insured, in case of disaster, shall not be considered as an acceptance of an abandonment, such acts in sending a wrecking party on notice of a stranding of a vessel, in taking possession of it and in repairing it, if done in ignorance of facts which vitiated the policy, do not amount to acceptance of abandonment; but it is a question for the jury to determine whether such acts, taken in connection with all the facts, and with the provis
ions in the policy, amounted to such an acceptance. Although a protest by a master of a vessel after loss is ordinarily not ad
missible in evidence during his lifetime, yet in this case it was rightfully
admitted, because it was made part of the proof of the loss. A stranded insured vessel, having been recovered and repaired, was libelled
and sold for the repairs, neither the owners nor the insurers being willing to pay for them. In an action between the owners and the insurer to recover the insurance; Held, that the record in that suit was not admissible against the insurer to establish acceptance of an abandonment.
This was an action upon a policy of insurance, bearing date May 1, 1883, insuring the steamer Spartan, a Canadian vessel of six hundred and seventy-eight tons burden, from April 1 to November 30, 1883. The plaintiff in error, a Canadian cor
Statement of the Case.
poration, chartered the Spartan in the spring of 1883 to the Owen Sound Steamship Company, also a Canadian corporation or association, and she was being run by that company on the route between Owen Sound on Georgian Bay, Ontario, to Fort William, Ontario, on the north shore of Lake Superior, when the loss occurred. The perils insured against were thus stated in the policy:
Touching the adventures and perils which the said insurance company is content to bear and take upon itself by this policy, they are of the lakes, rivers, canals, fires, jettisons, that shall come to the damage of the said vessel or any part thereof, excepting all perils, losses, misfortunes, or expenses consequent upon and arising from or caused by the following or other legally excluded causes, viz.: Damage that may be done by the vessel hereby insured to any other vessel or property, incompetency of the master or insufficiency of the crew or want of ordinary care and skill in navigating said vessel and in loading, stowing and securing the cargo of said vessel ; rottenness, inherent defects, overloading, and all other unseaworthiness; theft, barratry or robbery.”
The steamer was valued at $50,000 and was insured in all to the amount of $10,000. Her crew consisted of the master, two mates, two engineers, two wheelsmen, four firemen, a full complement in the cabin, and four or five deck hands. She had made three trips from the opening of the season of navigation; and on the 18th of June, 1883, left Fort William, on her return trip to Owen Sound, and stopped en route at Silver Island on the north shore of Lake Superior, leaving that port at 12.45 P.M., and was stranded on the southwest point of Caribou Island, in Lake Superior, at about two o'clock in the morning of June 19. The evidence tended to show that on this occasion, "for the first time," she laid her course from Silver Island for Passage Island, thence direct for White Fish Point on the south shore of Lake Superior. Between Silver Island and Passage Island a thick fog arose, which continued until after the stranding. She passed Passa ge Island at 2.30 P.M., thence the chart course lay S. E. by E. 4 E. to White Fish Point, passing about eight miles to the southward of Car
Statement of the Case.
ibou Island, one hundred and thirty-two miles from Passage Island. About eight o'clock in the evening of June 18, the master retired to his stateroom, leaving the second mate on watch, and gave him the following written instructions:
Monday Evening. “Mr. Harbottle: If it continues thick at 10 o'clock P.M. keep her S. E. by E. until 3 A.M.; then keep her S. E. by E. E. small. If it clears continue on your course S. E. by E. 4 E.”
The fog continued dense during Harbottle's watch, and he made the course prescribed until he came off watch about 1 o'clock A.m. on the 19th, running the steamer at full speed, which was twelve or twelve and a half miles per hour, the master testifying that his instructions were based on the steamer's running on time.” At twenty minutes past one in the morning, Wagner, the first mate, relieved Harbottle and took charge, navigating the vessel under the same orders, the fog being so dense, he says, “ that you could not see anything.” There was no lookout forward; no one else on deck during either watch, beside the mate and the wheelsman; no soundings were taken; and the steamer was kept running at her full rate of speed, carrying her regular steam of forty-five pounds, her maximum pressure being forty-seven pounds. She struck on the southwest point of Caribou Island, in Canadian waters, though she should have passed seventeen miles to the southward of that island. Upon the ordinary course from Passage Island to White Fish Point, she would have passed about eight miles south, but the testimony tended to show that she took a course somewhat southerly of the most direct course between the two points, which should have carried her some seventeen miles south.
Notice of the disaster and request for assistance were sent by the master to the insurers' agents, who received it, June 22, and sent to the aid of the Spartan a tug and wrecking expedition, under command of Captain Swain, which left Detroit June 23, and arrived at Caribou Island June 25. June 26, plaintiff sent a telegram to the insurance agent at Toronto, who was the broker who negotiated this insurance, through defend
Statement of the Case.
ant's agents at Buffalo, as follows: "Spartan ashore on Caribou Island, and this company beg to inform you that they abandon the boat and claim a total loss. Please inform the underwriters.”
The steamer was brought to Detroit, as alleged on the one side, by the order of her master, and there docked and repaired under his instructions, which is denied on the other. The cost of rescuing the steamer and towing her to Detroit was $7455.13, which was paid by the underwriters. It is in dispute as to who ordered the repairs, or claimed or exercised control over them or the steamer, or directed where she should be brought, but it is not shown that either plaintiff or defendant did. The repairs were made by the Detroit Dry Dock Company, and completed in September, at a cost of from $23,000 to $24,000. In November, plaintiff served on the insurers proofs of loss, verified November 3, 1883, in which it is stated: “That the said vessel, in the prosecution of a voyage from Fort William, on the north shore of Lake Superior, in the Province of Ontario, to Owen Sound, on Georgian Bay, in said Province of Ontario, at about two o'clock on the morning of the 19th of June last, in a fog, ran ashore on the southwest shore of Caribou Island, and became a wreck and total loss, and was duly abandoned by her owners to her insurers, as will appear by certified copy of the protest of her master and mariners, heretofore served upon you; in consequence of which the said Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Company suffered damage, sustained loss or damage, within the perils insured against under the said policy No. 1965, to the amount of ten thousand dollars, as will further appear by particular statement herewith."
The agents of the insurers knew nothing of the facts attending the stranding, except what the protest showed, until after March, 1884. Up to that time plaintiff and the underwriters had been negotiating for a settlement of the loss, but could not agree upon the liability for duties upon the repairs, but after discovery of the facts the defendant and the other insurers refused to pay. Upon the trial the jury found a verdict for the defendant, on which judgment was entered.
Statement of the Case.
The opinion of Judge Brown, the district judge, on the motion for a new trial, will be found in 26 Fed. Rep. 596.
The cause was brought to this court by writ of error, and errors were assigned as follows: That the Circuit Court erred
1. In ruling that no authority was shown on the part of Captain Gibson to bind the defendant in respect to the repairs made upon the steamer Spartan.
2. In striking out all the testimony respecting the acts and statements of Gibson.
3. In excluding this question put by plaintiff's counsel to the witness Patterson: “Q. What is the custom of Canadian vessels about carrying a lookout forward ?”
In refusing to instruct the jury according to the requests made by plaintiff's counsel, as follows:
4. First. “If the jury find that the Spartan, while navigating Lake Superior on June 19th, 1883, and while a dense fog prevailed, was stranded on Caribou Island, and that the insurers were promptly notified of the disaster, and that proper proofs of loss were furnished to the insurers, then the plaintiff has made a case which prima facie entitles it to a verdict in this case.”
5. Second. “The stranding of the Spartan on Caribou Island while a dense fog was prevailing was an accident which is prima facie covered by the policy and for which the insurers are prima facie liable.”
6. Third. “ If the jury find that the fog contributed proximately to the stranding of the Spartan, then the insurers are liable for the loss caused by such stranding."
7. Fourth. “ There is no evidence in the case which even tends to prove the unseaworthiness of the Spartan except in regard to her compass, and if the jury find that the compass had not varied more than vessels compasses ordinarily do, that the steamer had been navigated by the same compass without trouble from the time she left La Chene, on the St. Lawrence River, up to the time of the disaster, and that the officers of the steamer at the time she started upon the voyage on which the stranding took place believed the compass to be reliable, and had reason for so believing, then the insurers