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James Shewan & Sons, Inc. v. United States, 266 U.S. 108 (1924)

James Shewan & Sons, Inc. v. United States

No. 42

Argued October 7, 8, 1924

Decided November 17, 1924

266 U.S. 108


The Suits in Admiralty Act of 1920, c. 95, 41 Stat. 525, which was intended to substitute an equivalent remedy against the United States in personam for the right in rem against its merchant vessels permitted by the Shipping Board Act of 1916, c. 451, 39 Stat. 728, provides, (§ 2):

"That in cases where if such vessel were privately owned or operated . . . , a proceeding in admiralty could be maintained at the time of the commencement of the action herein provided for, a libel in personam may be brought against the United States . . . provided that such vessel is employed as a merchant vessel. . . ."

Held, construing the two acts together, that the proviso does not mean that the vessel, being a merchant vessel, must be actively employed as such when the action is commenced, and that, where a vessel was at all times previously engaged in the mercantile trade, and so engaged when the cause of action arose, the mere fact that she was laid up and out of use when the action in personam began and thereafter did not prevent its maintenance. P. 266 U. S. 110.


Page 266 U. S. 109

Appeal under Jud.Code § 238 from a decree of the district court dismissing a libel in personam for want of jurisdiction. See 267 U. S. 267 U.S. 86.

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