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Gordon v. Blackton

Decided: August 27, 1936.

AARON GORDON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CHARLES F. BLACKTON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the First District Court of Jersey City.

For the defendant-appellant, Collins & Corbin (Edward A. Markley and Patrick F. McDevitt, of counsel).

For the plaintiff-appellee, Aaron Gordon (John W. Ockford, of counsel).

Before Justices Trenchard, Heher and Perskie.

Trenchard

The opinion of the court was delivered by

TRENCHARD, J. This is defendant's appeal from plaintiff's judgment, entered by the judge sitting without a jury, based upon defendant's failure to honor an execution against wages.

Plaintiff has a judgment and execution against one Findlay, an employe of the Erie Railroad Company, which execution

was not honored. Hence this suit. The substantial question is whether the employe's wages are exempt under the federal statute. Appellant contends they are and appellee contends that they are not.

We think that the wages of Findlay, a seaman engaged in the coastwise trade, are not exempt from execution.

It appears that Findlay, the judgment debtor, was and is employed either as "captain or mate" on a tugboat of the Erie Railroad Company which plies in and about the Hudson river, both in the North river and East river branches thereof, along both sides of the river and crossing the river from New Jersey to New York and Brooklyn and vice versa. The Hudson river and its two branches, the North river and East river, are navigable and are a part of New York harbor. He was and is, therefore, engaged in the coastwise trade. The cases support this conclusion. Some of these are: Ravesies v. United States, 37 Fed. Rep. 447; Leary v. Jersey City, 189 Id. 419; Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. (U.S.) 1; Pacific Milling Co. v. Portland, 133 Pac. Rep. 72. Thus in the case of Gibbons v. Ogden, supra, Chief Justice Marshall said: "The coasting trade is a term well understood. The law has defined it; and all know its meaning perfectly. The act describes, with great minuteness, the various operations of a vessel engaged in it; and it cannot, we think, be doubted, that a voyage from New Jersey to New York, is one of those operations." In the Ravesies case it was said that the words "coasting trade" and "coastwise trade" were used synonymously. In Leary v. Jersey City, supra, it was stated that "a harbor is a port or haven for ships, a sheltered recess in the coast line of a sea, gulf, bay, or lake, most frequently at the mouth of a river * * *." In Pacific Milling Co. v. Portland, supra, it was declared that "the word 'sea' has been held to mean 'not only high-sea, but arms of the sea, waters flowing from it into ports and havens, and as high upon rivers as the tide ebbs and flows.'"

Now Findlay, being engaged in the coastwise trade (and we assume as a seaman) cannot claim the exemption allowed seamen because, as appellee ...


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