The Federal Reporter with Key-Number Annotations, Volume 250: Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Courts of Appeals and District Courts of the United States, August-October, 1918. Page: 16
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250 FEDERAL REPORTER
Finding the dredge to have been free from fault, we come to the
conduct of the officers of the tugs and of the barge. The evidence sat-
isfactorily establishes the responsibility of the tugs for the navigation
of the fleet. The captain of the tug Curtis directed the navigation of
the fleet, and the captain of the barge Pittsburg navigated the barge
subject to his orders. The relation between the owners of the tugs
and the owner of their tow was that of independent contractor and
contractee, and the owners of the tow would not be responsible for
the negligence of the tugs' officers in navigating the fleet. Aside from
the responsibility of the owners of the barge, if any, arising from the
position of the anchor on the barge, they were under no responsibility
to the dredge company for the damage caused by the collision.
We have no doubt that the captain of the tug Curtis was negligent in
his management of the fleet. If he steered the fleet in the direct course
across the Neches river to the point at entrance to the canal, where the
dredge was moored, he was negligent in selecting a dangerous course,
when a safe one was open to him. If he pursued the circuitous course,
then it follows that careful navigation of the fleet would have enabled
it to have passed the dredge in safety. The dredge being stationary,
responsibility for the safe passage was presumptively placed upon the
fleet. The fact of collision, under such conditions, would prima facie
impute fault to the moving fleet. The reversal of the engines of the
Curtis was an act of negligence, and a direct cause of the colhsion. The
placing of the tugs abreast of the barge, giving the fleet a width of
beam of 70 feet, with knowledge that the dredge was to be encountered
in the narrow channel of the canal, was also a negligent act on the
part of the person in charge of the navigation of the fleet. Without
referring to the various other acts of fault charged against the fleet,
we think those mentioned are enough to support the decree against the
D. W. Ryan Towboat Company.
Coming to consider the liability of the Sun Company, as the owner of
the barge Pittsburg, we have said that its liability, if any exists, de-
pends upon whether the position of its anchor, hanging from its side at
the hawse hole and extending below the water line, was a negligent one.
This is not a case where the position of the anchor merely aggravated
in an undefined degree the damage done by the collision, which would
have been the case if the dredge had not sunk, and if the damage had
consisted of the crushing due to the blow. In this case, the substantial
damage was due to the sinking of the dredge. If the dredge had been
struck, but had not sunk, the damage would have been inconsequential.
The substantial damage was the result of the sinking of the dredge,
and the cause of its sinking was the cause of the damage. We think
the evidence justified the finding of the District Judge that, but for the
presence of the anchor at the side of the barge and below the water
line, the dredge would not have been sunk by the collision; and that
the effect of the position of the anchor was to tear a hole in the side of
the dredge below the water line, which would not have otherwise hap-
pened from the collision.
It consequently becomes necessary to inquire whether the presence
of the anchor in the position described was due to negligence on the
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The Federal Reporter with Key-Number Annotations, Volume 250: Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Courts of Appeals and District Courts of the United States, August-October, 1918., legislative document, 1918; Saint Paul, Minnesota. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38821/m1/31/: accessed December 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.