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HOSTETTER V. PARK, 137 U. S. 30 (1890)

U.S. Supreme Court

Hostetter v. Park, 137 U.S. 30 (1890)

Hostetter v. Park

No. 3

Argued and submitted October 21, 1890

Decided November 3, 1890

137 U.S. 30




A bill of lading for goods shipped at Pittsburg for New Orleans, on a barge towed by a steam tug, stated that the goods were "to be delivered without delay, . . . the dangers of navigation, fire, and unavoidable accidents excepted." The barge was taken safely down the Ohio River to Mt. Vernon, and was then towed up the river and took on cargo at several places not over about three miles above Mt. Vernon. After making the last landing, she struck an unmarked, unknown, and hidden object below the surface of the water, which caused her to sink, without negligence on her part or that of the tug, and by an unavoidable accident, thereby damaging the shipper's cargo. On a libel in admiralty, in personam, by the shipper against the owners of the barge and the tug, the circuit court, on an appeal from the district court, which had dismissed the libel, found the foregoing facts, and that it always had been the general and established usage in the trade in question for a tug and barges to follow the practice adopted in this case, and that such usage tended to cheapen the cost of transportation, facilitated business, and conduced

Page 137 U. S. 31

to the safety of the whole tow, and was therefore a reasonable usage. The libel having been dismissed by the circuit court,

Held on appeal:

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