IN RE FASSETT, 142 U. S. 479 (1892)

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U.S. Supreme Court

In re Fassett, 142 U.S. 479 (1892)

In re Fassett

No. 10, Original

Argued December 14-15, 1891

Decided January 11, 1892

42 U.S. 479


The collector of customs at the port of New York seized a British built steam pleasure yacht, purchased in England by a citizen of the United States and duly entered at that port, the seizure being for the alleged reason that the vessel was liable to duty as an imported article. Her owner filed a libel in admiralty against her and the collector in the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York, claiming the delivery of the vessel to him and damages against the collector. Under process from the court, the vessel was attached and taken possession of by the marshal, and due notice was given. The collector appeared personally in the suit and put in an answer, and the district attorney put in a claim and an answer on behalf of the United States. The substance of the answers was that the vessel was liable to duty as an imported article. The collector applied to this Court for a writ of prohibition to the district court, alleging that that court had no jurisdiction of the suit. This Court, without considering the question of the liability of the vessel to duty, denied the writ on these grounds:

(1) The district court had jurisdiction of the vessel and of the collector.

(2) The question whether the vessel was liable to duty as an imported article was sub judice in the district court.

(3) The subject matter of the libel was a marine tort, cognizable by the district court.

(4) It being alleged in the answers that the vessel was detained by the collector "under authority of the revenue laws of the United States," she was, under § 931 of the Revised Statutes, subject to the order and decree of the district court.

(5) The libellant had no remedy under the Customs Administrative Act of June 10, 1890, 26 Stat. 131, and the only way in which the vessel could be brought under the jurisdiction of a court of the United States was by the institution of the libel.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 142 U. S. 480

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