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: 72
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250 FEDERAL REPORTER
In sustaining its charge, the libelant relied upon the presumption
of unseaworthiness and also upon evidence of unseaworthiness.
The area of this controversy may be narrowed by disposing briefly
of two of its phases.
 There is no substance in the claimant's defence that the charter
was a demise, and, therefore, the owner was relieved of the warranty
of seaworthiness by the rule of caveat emptor. Sanford & Brooks Co.
v. Columbia Dredging Co. (D. C.) 163 Fed. 362; Id., 177 Fed. 878, 101
C. C. A. 92. Manifestly, the charter was a demise, following a more
or less thorough inspection by an agent of the charterer. Scanlan v.
The Deck Scow Johnson Lighterage Co. Nos. 15 and 24, 248 Fed. 74,
- C. C. A. -. But the rule of caveat emptor applies to a char-
ter of demise (and to the discharge of the owner's implied warranty
of seaworthiness) only as to defects in the vessel which are patent
or which are discoverable after inspection or after an opportunity to
inspect. The defects in this vessel, being in its rudder port sleeve
and in the timbers concealed by it, as was afterward discovered, were
hidden and were not discoverable upon the inspection that was made
or upon such an inspection as reasonably should be made on entering
into a thirty day charter, and, therefore, the rule of caveat emptor
can not be invoked to the relief of the owner on his warranty of sea-
 Nor do we think there is substance in the libelant's claim to
recovery on the presumption of the vessel's unseaworthiness. Such a
presumption necessarily arises and alone will sustain recovery in a
case where a vessel sinks from an unknown cause under circumstances
where she had been subjected to no external peril, and where nothing
but her unseaworthiness can explain the accident. In other words, the
presumption of unseaworthiness arises where the only inference in
the circumstances is that of unseaworthiness. The Loyal, 204 Fed.
930, 123 C. C. A. 252; The Willie (D. C.) 134 Fed. 759; Sanbern
v. Wright & Cobb Lighterage Co. (D. C.) 171 Fed. 449; Id., 179 Fed.
1021, 102 C. C. A. 666; Oregon Round Lumber Co. v. Portland &
Asiatic S. S. Co. (D. C.) 162 Fed. 912; Forbes v. Merchants' Exp. &
Transp. Co. (D. C.) 111 Fed. 796; Id., 120 Fed. 1019, 56 C. C. A. 681.
As the circumstances attending the sinking of the "Transit" do not ex-
clude all inferable causes except that of unseaworthiness, but, on the
contrary, very plausibly suggest another cause, the presumption does
 The case, therefore, presents the single question: What caused
the vessel to sink?
The "Transit" was a steam lighter of about 175 tons burden, built
and rigged to carry miscellaneous cargo, and was engaged in light-
erage service in New York Harbor under charter to the libelant. At
about 5:30 o'clock on the evening of September 11, 1916, the vessel
docked at Pier 29, North River, bow in, with her starboard side
against the pier. She was heavily laden aft, her freeboard at the stern
being only twenty to twenty-two inches, while at the bow it was from
four to five feet. Her lines were such that when so loaded, and when
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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/m1/87/: accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.