THE ATLAS, 93 U. S. 302 (1876)

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U.S. Supreme Court

The Atlas, 93 U.S. 302 (1876)

The Atlas

93 U.S. 302


1. Owners of a ship are not liable, under existing laws, for any loss, damage, or injury by a collision occasioned without their privity or knowledge beyond the amount of their interest in such ship and her cargo at the time the collision occurred.

2. The true measure of compensation to an innocent party in a case of collision is damages to the full amount of loss actually suffered by him.

3. The shipper or consignee of the cargo of a vessel, being innocent of all wrong, bears no proportion of the loss resulting from a collision. He may pursue his remedy at common law, or in admiralty, by a proceeding in rem, or

Page 93 U. S. 303

by libel in personam against the owner of either or both of the offending vessels.

4. A collision between two vessels which were at fault resulted in the loss of the cargo of a third vessel which was not at fault. Its owner proceeded in rem against one of the offending vessels. Held that he was entitled to a decree against it for the entire amount of his damages.

This is a libel against the steamboat Atlas by the Phoenix Insurance Company, for damages resulting from a collision between the Atlas and the steam tug Kate, whereby a canal boat, in tow of the latter, was sunk and her cargo, of which the company was the insurer, was lost and destroyed.

The district court found that the collision was caused by the mutual fault of the Atlas and Kate, and decreed that the libellant recover against the Atlas one-half of the damages sustained.

Both parties appealed, and, the circuit court having affirmed the decree, they appealed here, and filed a written stipulation as follows:

"1. The appeal taken by the claimants to this Court from the decree of the United States Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York is waived, so as to bring up before the court, on the argument of this cause on the cross-appeals, only the question of law as to whether libellants are entitled to recover the whole amount of the damages, instead of one-half."

"2. The parties agree that the collision mentioned in the libel and proceedings in this cause occurred by the mutual fault of the steamboats Atlas and Kate."

"3. The libellants waive and abandon the assignment of error and the claim that the decree of the circuit court should be reversed on the ground that the Atlas only was in fault, and rely only on the assignment of error that the decree should have been for the whole amount of the damages sustained by them, instead of for only a moiety thereof, and the only question to be submitted to the court is the question of law, whether the Atlas is liable for the whole amount of libellants' damages. "

Page 93 U. S. 307

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