THE STERLING and others v. PETERSON and others.

106 U.S. 647 (1 S.Ct. 89, 27 L.Ed. 98)

THE STERLING and others v. PETERSON and others.

Decided: November 6, 1882

J. Warren Coulston and William L. Putnam, for appellants.

Joseph P. Hornor and W. S. Benedict, for appellees.

WAITE, C. J.

This was a suit in admiralty against the ship Sterling and tow-boat Equator, for damages sustained by the bark Sif in a collision. Both the ship and tow-boat were found to be in fault, and they were condemned in solido for the whole amount of the loss. From a decree to that effect this appeal was taken.

It is conceded that upon the facts found the owners of the Sif are entitled to a decree against the ship and the tow-boat, as both were in fault. The well-established rule in such cases is to apportion the damages equally between the two offending vessels, the right being reserved to the libelant to collect the entire amount from either of them in case of the inability of the other to respond for her portion. The Washington and The Gregory, 9 Wall. 516; The Alabama and The Gamecock, 92 U. S. 695; The Virginia Ehrman and The Agnese, 97 U. S. 317; The City of Hartford and The Unit, Id. 323. As in this case the decree was against both vessels for the full amount of the loss, it should be modified so as to be against the Sterling and the Equator, and their respective stipulators, severally, each for one-half of the entire damage and costs; any balance of such half which the libelant shall not be able to enforce against either vessel to be paid by the other vessel or her stipulators. As it does not appear from the record that the attention of the court below was called to this objection to the form of the decree, each party will be required to pay his own costs in this court.

The decree of the circuit court is reversed, and the cause remanded with instructions to enter a new decree in accordance with this opinion, adding interest to the date of such entry.

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