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Standard Oil Co. v. Southern Pacific Co., 268 U.S. 146 (1925)

Standard Oil Company of New Jersey v. Southern Pacific Company


Argued January 19, 1925

Decided April 20, 1925

268 U.S. 146


1. The Federal Control Act did not authorize an action in tort by the owner of a vessel against the Director General of Railroads for her loss through collision while operated by the Director General. P. 154.

2. Where the Director General, under his contract with the owner for the use and upkeep of transportation properties taken over under the Federal Control Act, made a settlement including an allowance for a vessel lost by collision during operation by the Director General, held that the common law rule that one who accepts satisfaction from one of two joint tortfeasors cannot recover from the other was inapplicable to extinguish the claim of the owner against the owner of the other vessel in pending limitation of liability proceedings to which both owners and the Director General were parties. Id.

3. Upon an appeal in admiralty, there is a trial de novo opening the whole case, so that a party is not bound by the decree below through failure to join in the appeal. P. 268 U. S. 155.

4. In the absence of a market value, such as is established by contemporaneous sales of like property in the ordinary way of business, the damages to which the injured party is entitled in admiralty for the loss of a vessel is that amount which, considering all the circumstances, probably could have been obtained for her on the date of the collision -- the sum that in all probability would have resulted from fair negotiations between an owner willing to sell and a purchaser desiring to buy. P. 268 U. S. 155.

Page 268 U. S. 147

5. Cost of reproduction as of the date of valuation is evidence to be considered, but neither that nor that less depreciation is the measure or the sole guide; value is the thing to be found, and there should be a reasonable judgment of this based on a proper consideration of all relevant facts. P. 268 U. S. 156.

6. In view of changed prices, held that original cost of a vessel was not a useful guide to her value when lost. P. 268 U. S. 157.

292 F. 560 affirmed.

Certiorari to a decree of the circuit court of appeals modifying a decree of the district court (266 F. 570; 285 id. 617) in proceedings for limitation of liability in admiralty. The district court found that both the petitioner's vessel and that of the Southern Pacific Company were at fault, and fixed the damages of the latter. The circuit court of appeals found petitioner's vessel alone at fault, and increased the damages. For preliminary proceedings in this Court, see 263 U.S. 681, 696; 265 U. S. 569.

Page 268 U. S. 152

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