HARTRANFT V. OLIVER, 125 U. S. 525 (1888)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hartranft v. Oliver, 125 U.S. 525 (1888)

Hartranft v. Oliver

No. 190

Argued March 22, 1888

Decided April 9, 1888

125 U.S. 525


A vessel arrived at a port of the United States from a foreign port on the 30th of June, 1883, and was entered at the custom house on that day. A custom house inspector took charge of it, and the vessel remained with unbroken hatches until after the following 1st of July. field, - that the goods on board, being in the custody and under the control of officers of the customs, were in "a public store," or "bonded warehouse" within the meaning of those terms as used in § 10 of the Act of March 3, 1883, 22 Stat. 488, 525, and were subject to the duty imposed by the provisions of that act.

The Court stated the case as follows:

In 1883, the plaintiffs were merchants in the City of Philadelphia, and during that year they imported from Leghorn, Italy, by the bark Pellegra Madre, 155 cases of salad olive oil and ten cases of lamp olive oil. The bark arrived at the port of Philadelphia on Saturday, the 30th of June, 1883, and was entered at the custom house of that port between the hours of one and two in the afternoon. It was not practicable on that day after that time to remove the cases from the vessel into any public store or bonded warehouse, and the next day, July 1st, 1883, was Sunday. On the 7th of July, the cases were entered in bond at the custom house, and on the same day the plaintiffs made a withdrawal entry for the goods, and offered to pay the defendant, who was at the time collector of the port, duty thereon at the rate of 25 percent ad valorem as provided by § 6 of the Act of Congress of March 3, 1883, 22 Stat. 494, c. 121, but the defendant refused to permit the withdrawal entry, or to accept the duty at that rate, and exacted duty on the 155 cases of salad olive oil, gauging 645 63/100 gallons at the rate of one dollar per gallon, and on the ten cases of lamp olive oil, gauging one hundred gallons at the rate of

Page 125 U. S. 526

25 cents per gallon, the whole making the sum of $670.63, which was paid by the plaintiffs within ten days after liquidation of the entry, under protest, they claiming that the oil was only subject to duty at the rate of 25 percent ad valorem. The difference between the amount of duties exacted and paid and the amount which the plaintiffs claimed were leviable upon the goods was four hundred and thirty-five dollars and sixty-two cents ($435.62). From the decision of the collector the plaintiffs appealed to the Secretary of the Treasury, who approved the decision, and thereupon they brought this action in the Court of Common Pleas for the County of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania to recover the alleged excess of duties exacted. On petition of the collector, the action was removed to the circuit court of the United States, where issue was joined and the action tried, resulting in a special verdict finding the several facts stated above and also that from the time of the arrival and entry of the bark in the port of Philadelphia, June 30, 1883, until after payment of the duty exacted, July 7th, the "vessel remained with unbroken hatches, and with a custom house inspector in charge of the same."

Upon the special verdict, the court rendered judgment for the plaintiffs for the amount claimed, with interest, and to review this judgment the case is brought here on writ of error.

In his general circular to collectors of customs of May 19th, 1883, the Secretary of the Treasury, in giving construction to § 10 of the Act of March 3d 1883, said

"that all goods imported before said act takes effect, and which are entered in bond on or before that date, and for which permits to land, designating the warehouse, have been issued, and which have not then been delivered on payment of duties, are to be regarded as subject to duty under said act. This rule will prevail whether the goods are actually within the walls of a bonded warehouse on that day, or on the dock, or on shipboard in port, or undergoing transportation in bond, either after appraisal or under the immediate transportation act. "

Page 125 U. S. 527

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