Limitation of Liability Hearings

PETITION OF THE WHITE STAR LINE
FOR LIMITATION OF LIABILITY.


 

To the Honorable THE JUDGES of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York:

The petition of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, Limited, owner of the steamship Titanic, in a cause of limitation of liability, civil and maritime, alleges, on information and belief, as follows:

FIRST: The petitioner is a British registered company, and operates a line of cargo and passenger steamships between Southampton and New York. Its principal office and place of business in the United States is in the City of New York. At the times hereinafter mentioned, the petitioner was the sole owner of the steamship Titanic, a steel, triple screw vessel of 46,328 tons gross and 21,851 tons net register, 852.5 feet in length, 92.5 feet in beam, and 59.58 feet in depth of hold. She was built by Harland & Wolff, Ltd., in Belfast, and was launched in 1911. The petitioner had used due diligence to make the steamship seaworthy, and she was, until the accident hereinafter mentioned, tight, staunch and strong, and in all respects seaworthy.

SECOND: On Wednesday, April 10th, 1912, the Titanic, with passengers, cargo and mails on board, left Southampton on her maiden voyage, bound for New York, via Cherbourg and Queenstown. She was under the command of an experienced master, and was fully and efficiently officered, manned, equipped and supplied. Her equipment of lifeboats was in accordance with the requirements of the British Board of Trade, whose regulations were made applicable to and controlling on the steamship by English law. Her crew numbered 885 all told. She arrived at Cherbourg the afternoon of April 10th, and there took on board additional passengers, and proceeded to Queenstown, where she arrived on the morning of April 11th. After taking on additional passengers and mails, she sailed from Queenstown for New York about 2 o'clock P. M. of April 11th, 1912.

All went well until Sunday, April 14th, when about 11:40 P. M., ship's time, in latitude 41° 46' N. and longitude 50° 14' W., the Titanic struck a low-lying iceberg. As a result of this collision the Titanic sank about 2:20 A. M., ship's time, April 15th, 1912, in approximately the same position in which she had struck the iceberg. The master, chief officer, first and sixth officers, all the engineers, all the pursers and a large number of passengers and members of the crew perished. The vessel, her cargo, the personal effects of the passengers and crew, the mails, and everything connected with the vessel, except 14 lifeboats and their equipment, became a total loss.

THIRD: The facts and circumstances under which the collision and the loss and damage arising therefrom occurred are these:

The Titanic had good weather from the time she left Queenstown. She took the regular course of trans-Atlantic steamships bound west, keeping strictly on the west-bound southerly lane or route, and at 5:50 P. M., April 14th, having passed the so-called "corner," longitude 47° W. and latitude 42° N., she altered her course to South 86° West (true), and maintained this course until she sighted the iceberg with which she collided. At 10 P. M. the first, fourth and sixth officers were on watch on the bridge. The weather was clear, bright starlight; there was no wind, and the sea was smooth. Two experienced lookout men were in the crow's nest keeping a vigilant lookout. They had been especially instructed to keep a sharp lookout for ice and they did so. During the watch the master was on the bridge from time to time and in the chart room, which opened on the bridge.

About 11:40 P. M., ship's time, a dark low-lying object was sighted and reported directly ahead. The first officer, who was in charge of the navigation, immediately ordered the helm hard astarboard and the engines full speed astern. The ship swung to port, but struck the iceberg a glancing blow with her starboard bow forward of the foremast. The shock of the collision was slight, but a grinding sound was heard as the hull came in contact with the submerged portion of the iceberg. The iceberg was what is known as a "growler," or small low-lying berg.

On giving the orders to starboard the helm and reverse the engines, the first officer closed, by electricity, the doors of the water-tight compartments.

Immediately after the collision the engines were stopped and the fourth officer was sent from the bridge to examine the holds. He found that water was coming in the forward holds, and so reported to the master. As the ship was making water rapidly, the master ordered the lifeboats to be cleared away, and officers and men at once went to their posts. Stewards were sent through the ship to arouse the passengers and to direct them to put on life belts and muster on the upper decks. Meanwhile signals of distress and calls for assistance were sent out by wireless telegraphy, and rockets were fired.

The ship was equipped with twenty lifeboats. All of these were successfully lowered, except two collapsible boats, one of which floated off, and capsized as the ship sank. Orders were given to load the boats with women and children first, and this was done. Some of the boats were filled from the boat deck and lowered directly to the water. Other boats were filled from the deck below the boat deck, and then lowered. 711 persons were saved in the boats.

The Titanic settled by the head and about 2:20 A. M., ship's time, April 15th, she foundered in 2,000 fathoms of water, going down head first, in approximately the same position in which she struck the iceberg, namely, latitude 41° 46' N. and longitude 50° 14' W.

About 4 A. M., April 15th, the steamship Carpathia, of the Cunard Line, Arthur Henry Rostrom, Master, bound from New York to the Mediterranean, which had received and answered the Titanic's wireless messages, arrived at the scene of the wreck and rescued all the survivors. She took on board 13 of the Titanic's lifeboats and set five others adrift. She then proceeded to New York, where she arrived Thursday, April 18th, and landed the surviving passengers and crew, and delivered the lifeboats to the petitioner.

FOURTH: The collision aforesaid and the loss, damage, injury and destruction resulting therefrom were due to inevitable accident, and were not caused or contributed to by any negligence or fault on the part of the petitioner, or of those in charge of the steamship Titanic, and were occasioned and incurred without the privity or knowledge of the petitioner.

FIFTH: Proceedings have already been brought against the petitioner for damage: alleged to have been sustained by reason of the loss of the steamship Titanic, as follows

In the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York:
By Louise Robins, as administratrix, etc., of George Robins, deceased, for damages for loss of the life of George Robins.

In the Supreme Court, New York County, New York:
By Frederick W. Shellard, as administrator, etc., of Frederick B. Shellard, deceased, for damages for loss of the life of Frederick W. Shellard.

In the Superior Court, Cook County, Illinois:
By John Devine, as administrator, etc., of A. Willar, deceased, for damages for the loss of the life of A. Willar.

In the District Court, Ramsey County, Minnesota:
By Carl Johnson, for damages for alleged personal injuries sustained and for loss of baggage.
By Oscar Hedman, for damages for alleged personal injuries sustained and for loss of baggage.
A large number of claims have been presented against the petitioner for loss of life and for loss of personal effects of passengers on the Titanic as set forth in Schedule A, annexed to this petition and made a part hereof, and the petitioner expects that other claims will be presented against it and that suits will be begun by persons who sustained injuries and by the representatives of persons who lost their lives by said collision. The demands already made against the petitioner in behalf of various claimants amount to more than $1,000,000.00.

SIXTH: The steamship Titanic was a total loss, and nothing was saved from the wreck, except the 13 lifeboats above mentioned, together with their equipment, and one collapsible boat, which was subsequently picked up by the steamship Oceanic and brought to New York. These boats are now within this District and within the jurisdiction of this Court. The value of said boats is approximately $4,520.00. The freight earned for the transportation of cargo on board the Titanic amounted to £426, or in currency of the United States at exchange of 4.8665 $2,073.13. The passage moneys prepaid for the transportation of passengers on said steamship amounted to £17,510, or in currency of the United States at exchange 4.8665 = $85,212.41. Of this sum, approximately $2,650.91 was paid for the transportation of the passengers who were saved and carried to their destination. The entire aggregate value of the interest of the petitioner in said steamship and her pending freight and passage moneys does not exceed the sum of $91,805.54. The petitioner is unable to state the exact amount of the passage moneys to be accounted for in this proceeding, but is advised that it will be less than the total amount of prepaid passage moneys, and asks that the amount be determined by a commissioner to be appointed by this Court.

SEVENTH: The petitioner claims exemption from liability, as owner of the steamship Titanic, for the losses, damages, injuries and destruction occasioned or incurred by the collision and sinking aforesaid, and for the claims for damages that have been made, or hereafter may be made, and it alleges that it has valid defences thereto on the facts and under the provisions of the contracts for the carriage of the cargo and of the passengers and their baggage. The petitioner further claims the benefit of the limitation of liability provided in Sections 4283, 4284 and 4285 of the Revised Statutes of the United States and the various statutes supplementary thereto and amendatory thereof, and to that end the petitioner is ready and willing to give a stipulation with sufficient surety for the payment into Court of the amount or value of the petitioner's interest in the steamship Titanic and her pending freight, whenever the same shall be ordered by this Court, as provided by the aforesaid statutes, by general rule 54 in admiralty, and by the rules and practice of this Court.

EIGHTH: All and singular the premises are true and within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States and of this Honorable Court.

WHEREFORE the petitioner prays:

1. That the Court cause due appraisement to be made of the amount or value of its interest in the steamship Titanic and of her pending freight for the aforesaid voyage.

2. That the Court make an order directing the petitioner to file a stipulation with surety to be approved by the Court for the payment into Court of the amount of the petitioner's said interest whenever the Court shall so order.

3. That the Court make an order directing the issuance of a monition to all persons claiming damages for all and any loss, damage or injury caused by or resulting from the accident aforesaid, citing them to appear before a Commissioner to be named by the Court in said order, and make due proof of their respective claims, and also to appear and answer the allegations of this petition, according to the law and practice of this Court, at or before a certain time to be fixed by the monition.

4. That the Court make an order directing that, on the giving of such stipulation as may be determined to be proper, or of an ad interim stipulation, an injunction shall issue restraining the prosecution of the proceedings mentioned in Article Fifth hereof, and the commencement or prosecution hereafter of any suit, action or legal proceeding of any nature or description whatever, except in the present proceeding, against the petitioner in respect of any claim or claims arising out of the aforesaid accident.

5. That the Court in this proceeding adjudge that the petitioner is not liable to any extent for any loss, damage, or injuries, nor for any claim whatsoever, in any way arising out of, or in consequence of, the accident above described; or, if the petitioner shall be adjudged liable, then that its liability be limited to the amount or value of the petitioner's interest in the steamship Titanic at the end of the voyage on which she was engaged at the time of said accident, and her pending freight, and that the moneys paid or secured to be paid as aforesaid be divided pro rata among such claimants as may duly prove their claims before the Commissioner hereinbefore referred to, saving to all parties any priorities to which they may be legally entitled, and that a decree may be entered discharging the petitioner from all further liability.

6. That the petitioner have such other or further relief as the justice of the cause may require.


BURLINGHAM, MONTGOMERY & BEECHER,
Proctors for Petitioner.

 

CHARLES C. BURLINGHAM,
J. PARKER KIRLIN,
Advocates.

 


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Southern District of New York, ss.:
County of New York. 

PHILIP A. S. FRANKLIN, being duly sworn, says: I am the General Agent in the United States of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, Limited, the petitioner herein. The foregoing petition is true to the best of my knowledge, information and belief. The sources of my information and the grounds of my belief are statements by surviving officers and crew of the steamship Titanic, investigations which I have caused to be made concerning the subject matter of this petition and information which I have acquired in the course of my duties as General Agent of the petitioner in the United States. The reason this verification is not made by the petitioner is that it is a foreign corporation and that there are no officers of the petitioner within the jurisdiction of this Court.

PHILIP A. S. FRANKLIN.

Sworn to before me, this 3rd day of October, 1912.
CHAUNCEY I. CLARK,
Notary Public, Kings County.
Certificate filed in New York County.

________________________________

 

 

SCHEDULE A
DEATH CLAIMS


Deceased. Claimant.
   
Abelson, Samuel Abelson, Anna, widow.
Attololi, Moloka  
Birnbaum, Joachim  
Bolus, Mrs. Jos. and 2 children Bolus, Jos., husband.
Bracken, James H. Bracken, Mrs. J. H., widow.
Byles, Thos. R D. Byles, Lawrence, et al., $50,000.
Case, Howard B. Case, Mrs. H. B., widow.
Chaffee, Herbert Chaffee, Carrie T., widow.
Chapman, Mr. and Mrs. John H. Lawry, W. J., brother.
Corbett children  
Crafton, John B. Crafton, Sarah F., widow.
Daher, Thomas (Tannous) Thomas, John
Debo, Elias Debo, John, father.
Douton, Wm. T. Douton, Emily S., widow.
Dyker, Adolf F. Dyker, Elizabeth A., widow, $15,000.
Danborn, Ernest G. Danborn, Alfred, Adm.
Eitemiller, G. F. Administrator.
Ellison, H. T., and wife Representatives.
Farthing, John Farthing, Mrs. J., widow.
Flynn, John Flynn, Michael, brother.
Foley, Joseph  
Ford, Edward W. Ford, Frances, sister.
Ford, Margaret Ann Ford, Frances, daughter.
Ford, Robina M. Ford, Frances, sister.
Ford, William N. T. Ford, Frances, sister.
Ford, Wallin M. Ford, Frances, sister.
Foley, Wm. Foley, Julia, sister.
Gillespie, William  
Goldsmith Goldsmith, Sarah, widow.
Hoyt, Wm. F. Hoyt, Gordon C., brother and Adm.
Hunt, George Hunt, Elizabeth M., widow.
Johnson, Andrew Ford, Frances, niece.
Johnson, Eliza Ford, Frances, niece.
Johnson, Katherine Ford, Frances, cousin.
Johnson, William Ford, Frances, cousin.
Kent, Edward A. Charlotte M. Kent et al., $50,000.
Lamb, John J. Lamb, Martin L. et al.
Lathinen, Rev. Wm. and wife Peterson, C. R., Adm.
Liberapoulas, Panagiotis McCrie, Maud M., widow, $20,000.
McCrie, James M.  
Maguire, John  
Mangan, Mary Mangan, Edward
Mangiavacchi, Emilio  
Marsh, John S.  
Minahan, W. E. Executor.
Moraweck, Ernest Moraweck, A. H., Executor.
Meyer, Edgar J. Meyer, Walter E., Executor.
Paulson, Mrs. Nils and 4 children Paulson, Nils, husband.
Robins, George Robins, Louise, adm., $50,000.
Rogers, Harry Adams, Fred.
Rosbloom, Helen Rosbloom, Victor, husband,)
Rosbloom, Sally Rosbloom, Victor, father,     } $5,000.
Rosbloom, Victor Rosbloom, Victor, father,     )
Shedid, Nihil Shedid, Mrs., mother.
Shawah, Youssef I.  
Shellard, Frederick B. Shellard, Frederick W., adm., $25,000.
Silvey, Wm. B. Silvey, Alice M., widow, $100,000.
Thomas, Thomas John (Tannous) Thomas, John.
Willar, A. Devine, John, adm., $10,000.
Weisz Weisz, Mrs. Mathilde, widow, $20,000.

    

 

CLAIMS FOR PERSONAL INJURIES.
   
Bowen, Grace S.  
Candee, Helen Churchill  
Chambers, Bertha G. (Mrs.) $10,000.00
Chambers, Norman C. $2,500.00 and 5,000.00
Daly, Eugene  
Dyker, Elizabeth A. (Mrs.) 2,000.00
Hedman, Oscar 10,000.00
Johnson, Carl 10,000.00
Mulvehill, Bertha E.  
Trout, Mrs. Jessie L. 1,000.00


 

BAGGAGE CLAIMS.
   
Abelseth, Olans  
Abelson, Mrs. Anna 4,142.00
Akx, Mrs. Leah 1,405.00
Allen, Elizabeth W. 2,352.80
Anderson, Harry 1,047.00
Andrews, Kornelia 316.00
Appleton, Mrs. Charlotte L. 3,500.00
Aubart, Mme. L.  
Bachini, Lalifi 1,415.00
Baxter, Mrs. James 32,300.00
Becker, Mrs. Allan and 3 children 2,184.20
Beckwith, Richard L. 1,232.00
Beckwith, Richard L. (Mrs.) 2,560.00
Beesley, Lawrence 1,066.00
Bentham, Lillian  
Bishop, Dickinson H. 12,985.00
Blank, Henry  
Bonnell, Caroline 3,232.50
Bonnell, Elizabeth $1,500.00
Bowen, Grace S.  
Briggs, L. Vernon  
Brown, Mrs. J. J. 14,573.00
Buckley, Daniel  
Bystrom, Mrs. Carolina 1,702.50
Caldwell, Albert F., wife and child 1,411.00
Candee, Helen C. (Mrs.) 4,046.00
Cardeza, Mrs. C. D. M.  
Carter, W. E., and family. 40,070. 00
Cassebeer, Mrs. H. A.  8,619.00
Chaffee, Mrs. Carrie T.  
Chambers, Norman C.  7,705.00
Chambers, Bertha G. (Mrs.) 1,990.00
Chaudanson, Victorine  425.00
Cherry, Gladys 6,000.00
Christy, Miss 1,775.00
Christy, Mrs. 7,700. 00
Collet, Stuart £50.0
Clark, Mrs. Walter  
Compton, Mrs. A. T. $2,000.00
Compton, S. R. (Miss) 2,200.00
Cornell, Malonia H. (Mrs.) 2,000.00
Coutts, Mrs. Minnie  
Crosby, Mrs. Catharine 10,836.00
Crosby, Mrs. Catharine E., adm'x. 5,112.00
Crosby, Harriette R. 12,773.00
Cumings, Mrs. J. Bradley 6,186.00
Daly, Eugene  
Daly, Peter Denis £266.16
Daniel, Robt. W.  
Daniels, Sarah  
Dick, Albert A. $2,303.00
Dodge, Washington, and wife 8,612.00
Douglas, Mrs. Mahala D. 22,760.00
Douglass, Mrs. Fred'k. C. 25,000.00
Douton, Mrs. Emily S.  
Dowdell, Elizabeth 513.00
Drew, Mrs. Lulu T. $500.00
Driscoll, Bridget 300.00
Dyker, Mrs. Elizabeth A. 2,000.00
Earnshaw, Mrs. Boulton 2,092.50
Emanuel, Ethel 667.75
Eustis, Elizabeth 2,009.75
Flegenheim, Mrs. Antoinette  
Frolicher, Marguerite  550.05
Frolicher-Stehli, Max 735.33
Frolicher-Stehli, Max (Mrs.) 6,137.40
Futrelle, Mrs. Jacques  
Garside, Ethel 500.00
Gibson, Dorothy 2,382.75
Gibson, Mrs. Pauline C. 1,483.75
Gillespie, Wm.  
Goldberg, Samuel L.  2,581.50
Goldberg, Mrs. Samuel L. 15,285.00
Gracie, Col.  
Harbeck, Mrs. Catherine  
Harder, Geo. A. 1,400.00
Harder, Mrs. Geo. A. 4,960.03
Harper, Henry S., and wife 2,000.00
Hedman, Oscar 1,522.80
Heikkinen, Laina 175.00
Hewlett, Mary D. 317.50
Hirvonen, Mrs. Helga 250.00
Hocking, Mrs. Elizabeth  
Hogeboom, Mrs. John C. 676.00
Hold, Mrs. Annie  1,390.00
Honkanen, Elina 100.00
Hoyt, Gordon C., baggage of Brother, Wm. F. H., dec.  
Hyman, Abraham £162.5
Haven, H. H. $2,500.00
Holverson, Mrs. A. O. 974.00
Iles, Mrs. D. $260.00
Jacobsohn,. Mrs.  S. S.  5,850.00
Jermyn, Annie  
Johanson, Oskar C.  212.50
Johnson, Carl  486.00
Johnstone, Miss A., loss of money sent 500.00
Karlsson, Einar  
Karun, Frank  
Keane, Nora A.  2,791.00
Kent, Charlotte M. et al., Baggage of E. A. Kent, dec. 2,000.00
Kennedy, John £32.17.0
Kimball, E. N. and wife $2,795.75
Kreuchen, Emilie 247.00
Leader, Dr. Alice F. 656.50
Lemore, Mrs. Amelia  
Lines, Ernest, and wife 4,000.00
Longley, Gretchen F.  
Lehman, Bertha 100.60
Lurette, Elise  617.00
McCormack, Thomas  
McGovern, H. 50.00
Madigan, Margaret 317.50
Madill, Georgette A. 952.80
Maioni, Ruberta 1,000.00
Manent, Julian Padroy 2,413.40
Mauge, Paul  
Mellors, Wm. J.  
Mennell, Mrs. James B.  
Meyer  
Midtsjo, Karl  
Mock, Philipp E. 1,395.50
More, Florintina Durandy 2,635.55
Moore, Biele (Mrs.) 258.30
Moran, Bertha 1,445.00
Mulvehill, Bertha E.  
Newsom, Helen M. $2,415.00
Nourney, Alfred 2,450.50
O'Keefe, Patrick 250.00
O'Leary, Nora 141.00
Parrish, Mrs. L. D. 2,920.00
Peuchen; Maj. A. G.  932.00
Phillips, Alice £62.5.6
Picard, Benoit  
Portaluppi, Emilio $17,524.00
Potter, Mrs. Thomas 1,678.85
Quick, Mrs. F. C. 1,000.00
Richards, Mrs. Emily  
Ridsdale, Lucy  
Robert, Mrs. Edward S. 5,785.60
Rogers, Selina  250.00
Rothes, Countess of 25,000.00
Roth, Miss Sarah  
Rugg, Emily  £285.0.7
Ryerson, Mrs. Emily B. $8,600.00
Ryerson, Susan B. 2,050.00
Schabert, Mrs. Emma 4,591.00
Segesser, Emma 190.40
Seward, Frederic M. 1,370.50
Shelley, Mrs. Imonita 3,465.00
Shutes, Elizabeth W. 700.00
Silvey, Alice M., and husband, dec'd. $2,000.00 and 1,000.00
Simonis, A. 3,000 F.
Sincock, Maude  
Sloper, Wm. T. $1,799.00
Smith, Lucien P. 3,659.40
Smith, Mrs. Lucien P. 4,772.00
Stachelm, Dr. M. 2,000 F.
Steffanson, H. Bjornstrom  $102,030.00
Stephenson, Mrs. W. B.  1,739.75
Taylor, E. Z. 453.00
Taylor, Mrs. E. Z. 1,361.00
Trembisky, Berk  
Trout, Mrs. Jessie L. $458.50
Tucker, Gilbert M., Jr. 531.75
Vanderholf 957.00
Watt, Bertha £300.0
Watt, Mrs. Bessie £600.0
Weisz, Mrs. Mathilde $7,057.66
Wells, Mrs. A. H.  700.00
White, Mrs. J. Stuart 6,000.00
Wick, Mary Natalie 4,044.00
Wick, Mrs. Mary H. 4,897.00
Wick Estate 1,925.00
Woolcctt, Mrs. Marion Wright  690.00
Young, Marie G. Over 5,000.00

 

 

 


 

District Court of the United States
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
_________________________________________

In the Matter
of
The Petition of the Oceanic Steam Navigation
Company, Limited, owner of the Steamship
TITANIC, in a cause of Limitation
of Liability.
_________________________________________
COPY

PETITION
_________________________________________

 

BURLINGHAM, MONTGOMERY & BEECHER
PROCTORS FOR PETITIONER
27 WILLIAM STREET
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
NEW YORK CITY

 

 

Filed October 3rd, 1912