WAINRIGHT v. CRAWFORD, 4 U.S. 226 (1801)

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U.S. Supreme Court

WAINRIGHT v. CRAWFORD, 4 U.S. 226 (1801)

4 U.S. 226 (Dall.)

Wainwright et al. v. Crawford.

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. March Term, 1801

THIS was an action on the case, brought by foreign merchants, against the defendant, to recover the amount of money lent to the captain, to pay for disbursements in repairing, and supplying, his ship, in a foreign port. It was proved, by the evidence of the captain, that he had no funds belonging to his owner, or to himself; and that he borrowed the money from the plaintiffs, to make the necessary repairs of the ship, for the prosecution of her voyage.

Moylan, for the defendant, observed, that the power of the master of a ship, extended no farther, than to authorise him to hypothecate the ship herself, in a foreign port, for absolute necessaries: but, he contended, that the master could not, under any circumstances, personally bind the owners. Moll. c. 1. 6. 2. s. 10. s. 14. Beauwe's L. M. 95. 6. 1 T. Rep. 2 Dall. Rep. 195. 1 Salk. 35. 2 Ld. Raym. 984.

Ingersoll and Franklin, for the plaintiffs, insisted, that every person who supplied a ship had a triple security; to wit, the master, the owner, and the ship; that, by the maritime law, the master was the authorised agent of the owners, in foreign ports; and that, independent of his power to bind the ship herself, he might bind the owners personally, upon proof that the money, or supplies, went to their use. Cowp. 636. 1 Vez. 443. 1 T. Rep. 73. 2 Vern. 643. 14 Vin. Abr. 300. pl. 9.

SHIPPEN, Chief Justice.

If the jury are satisfied (and the evidence is strong upon the point) that there was an actual necessity for borrowing the money, to repair the ship, the plaintiffs ought to recover. The lender is bound, it is true, to make due inquiry, whether the repairs are necessary; and whether the captain has effects in his hands, sufficient to defray the expense of repairing, without resorting to a loan: but he is not bound to know, nor to inquire, what is the state of the accounts, between the owner and the captain. If, therefore, the case of necessity existed; and the plaintiffs did not know (for, we fix on their knowledge as the test) that the captain had sufficient funds, in possession, to relieve the necessity; we think that the contract of the captain will bind his owners, personally.

Verdict, accordingly, for the plaintiffs.

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