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THE PLYMOUTH, 70 U. S. 20 (1865)

U.S. Supreme Court

The Plymouth, 70 U.S. 20 (1865)

The Plymouth

70 U.S. 20


1. Where a damage done is done wholly upon land, the fact that the cause of the damage originated on water subject to the admiralty jurisdiction does not make the cause one for the admiralty.

2. Hence, where a vessel lying at a wharf, on waters subject to admiralty jurisdiction, took fire, and the fire, spreading itself to certain storehouses on the wharf, consumed these and their stores, it was held not to be a case for admiralty proceeding.

The steam propeller Falcon, employed by its owners in navigating our great northern lakes, anchored beside the wharf of Hough & Kershaw, in Chicago River -- "navigable water." Upon the wharf large packing houses were built, and these at the time were filled with valuable stores. Owing to the negligence of those in charge of the Falcon, the vessel took fire, and the flames, stretching themselves to the wharf and packing houses, set these last on fire, which with their stores were wholly consumed. Hough & Kershaw filed accordingly, in the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, a libel in admiralty for cause of damage, civil and maritime, against the owners of the Falcon, and attached a vessel of theirs called the Plymouth.

The district court, regarding the case as not one for the admiralty dismissed the libel for want of jurisdiction. The circuit court, on appeal, considered that the dismissal was rightly made. The case was now here for review.

It is necessary to say that by act of Congress, [Footnote 1] the district courts of the United States possess admiralty jurisdiction "in matters of contract and tort arising in, upon, or concerning steamboats or other vessels" on our great northern lakes, the same as they do in cases of the like steamboats, and other vessels employed in navigation and commerce on the high seas and tidewaters.

Page 70 U. S. 33

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