January 26, 1944.
Appeal from the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.
In Admiralty. Libel by George Goumas against K. Karras Son and the Steamship Karras for breach of warranty in making a contract to furnish a crew. From an order of the District Court, 51 F. Supp. 145, dismissing the libel, libelant appeals.
Appellant alleged in his libel that he is engaged, in the Southern District of New York, in the business of providing supplies and personnel for merchant vessels; that the master of the SS "Karras" asked him to supply fourteen seamen for service thereon, representing to appellant that the vessel was fit and seaworthy and that the seamen's living quarters were fit and habitable; that the SS "Karras" was a merchant vessel flying the flag of Greece and was registered and owned in Greece by appellees, K. Karras Son; that those appellees knew at the time that the ship was not seaworthy or habitable, but on the contrary was filthy and abounded in vermin; that appellant relied upon the representations made by the master and provided the seamen after repeating to them the representations made to him; that the seamen were transported to Montreal, Canada, where the ship was lying; that the seamen then found that the ship was not habitable and refused to engage in the service of the ship as they had agreed; that then, finding themselves stranded and without money, they lodged complaints with the authorities against appellees and appellant, as a result of which appellant was compelled to take steps to find positions for these men on other vessels, to retain counsel to defend himself in proceedings arising upon the charges made against him, and to spend money for further transportation of the seamen and their maintenance; that appellant's office was picketed by an organization of merchant seamen, and that he suffered in his good name and reputation to his business detriment and disadvantage; all to his damage in the sum of $25,000. The libel prayed that process issue against respondents K. Karras Son in personam and against the ship, and for other relief.
The master of the vessel appeared as claimant, making claim to the vessel on behalf of K. Karras Son to the extent of whatever interest they might have in the vessel. Exceptions were then filed to the libel on the ground (1) that the facts averred in the libel were insufficient to constitute a cause of action; (2) that the facts averred did not constitute a cause of action within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; and (3) that the facts averred did not give rise to any maritime liens upon the vessel. These exceptions were filed by the "proctors for respondents and plaintiff." The "proctors for respondents and claimant" also gave notice bringing on the exceptions for argument. After hearing argument, the court below sustained the exceptions on the ground that there was no jurisdiction, and entered an order dismissing the libel. From that order appellant appeals.
David P. Siegel, of New York City, for libelant-appellant.
Frederick H. Cunningham, of New York City, for respondent-appellees.
Before SWAN, CLARK, and FRANK, Circuit Judges.
We agree with what was said in the excellent opinion of the court below as to the lack of admiralty jurisdiction here. There is no jurisdiction in admiralty except of a maritime contract, and the contract here was not of that character. The same considerations apply if the libel be regarded as stating a tort claim: It is not a maritime tort.
Cory Bros. Co. v. United States, 2 Cir., 51 F.2d 1010, and cases cited; The Princess, D.C., 12 F.2d 808.
As the suit relates to events which occurred after the execution of the contract, admiralty jurisdiction, in any event, would be doubtful. Westfall Larsen Co. v. Allman-Hubble Tug Boat Co., 9 Cir., 73 F.2d 200, 204; Cory Bros. Co. v. United States, supra.