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Austin Nichols & Co. v. Steamship "Isla de Panay", 267 U.S. 260 (1925)

Austin Nichols & Company v. Steamship "Isla de Panay"

Nos.199, 200, 201

Argued January 19, 1925

Decided March 2, 1925

267 U.S. 260


In proceedings in rem brought by consignees against a vessel to recover for damage to shipments of olives consigned in casks from Seville to New York, it appeared: that the damage was due to the weakness of the casks in which they were shipped, and not to the ship's negligence; that this weakness was known to the ship's agent, before he accepted the shipment from the consignors at Seville and issued bills of lading, and to her captain when the casks were transferred from another vessel to the libeled ship at Cadiz; that the agent had accepted the shipment and issued the bills of lading "clean," without noting thereon the state of the casks, upon condition that the consignors give the shipowner a letter of guarantee relieving it from responsibility therefor, which was done; that the bills of lading expressly exempted the ship from responsibility for damage resulting from fragile containers; that the consignees had directed their Seville bankers to pay the agreed purchase price for the olives upon presentation of clean bills of lading, and that the consignors thus obtained payment upon the bills in question, though there was nothing to show that the ship or its owner knew of this arrangement between buyer and seller or that the bank, in accepting the bills, lacked information of the circumstances attending their issue. The petition did not allege fraud or any peculiar trade usage at Seville.


(a) That the evidence was insufficient to establish fraud. P. 267 U. S. 272.

Page 267 U. S. 261

(b) That the evidence, including testimony by the ship's captain, was insufficient to establish a trade usage that bills of lading without notations impliedly acknowledged receipt of merchandise in apparent good order and condition. P. 267 U. S. 272.

(c) According to the long established rule, bills of lading, like those in question, do not affirmatively represent good order and condition, and the Harter Act (c. 105, 27 Stat. 445) does not require that they be given a different effect, either by construction or by estoppel. P. 267 U. S. 273.

292 F. 723 affirmed.

Certiorari to decrees of the circuit court of appeals affirming decrees of the district court, which dismissed three libels in rem for damages to goods.

Page 267 U. S. 265

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