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W. H. STOTT & CO. v. A/S D/S VESTERHAVET

DISTRICT COURT, D. NEW JERSEY


September 8, 1941

W. H. STOTT & CO., Limited,
v.
A/S D/S VESTERHAVET

The opinion of the court was delivered by: SMITH

SMITH, District Judge.

A libel in personam was filed in the above-entitled matter, and, pursuant to the prayer thereof, mesne process issued. The respondent was not found within the district, and, therefore, on July 16, 1941, the Steamship Maria, the property of the respondent, was attached under the said process. Thereafter, on July 17, 1941, pursuant to the provisions of an act entitled "An Act to authorize the acquisition by the United States of title to or the use of domestic or foreign merchant vessels for urgent needs of commerce and national defense, and for other purposes", *fn1" approved June 6, 1941, 55 Stat. 242, 46 U.S.C.A. preceding § 1101 note, the United States Maritime Commission, under the authority of the President, acquired title and possession of the said vessel.

The respondent, appearing specially, moves to dismiss the libel on the ground that the said acquisition divested this court of jurisdiction. It is contended that the lawful removal of the vessel from the custody of the court deprived it of jurisdiction. The present question must be considered in the light of the foregoing statutory provisions.

 The Act, by its express terms, preserves both the rights and remedies of claimants. It is apparent that attachment liens, as well as all other claims, remain unaffected and are enforceable against the fund deposited with the Treasurer of the United States. It is equally apparent that the available remedies, likewise, remain unaffected and may be pursued as heretofore in any court of competent jurisdiction.

 The said statute does provide that suit shall be commenced in the manner provided by Section 2 of the Suits in Admiralty Act, 46 U.S.C.A. § 742. This, however, is a procedural, and not a jurisdictional, requirement and does not affect the right of the court to hear and determine the issues of the instant case.

 The motion to dismiss the libel is denied and the libelant may supplement his pleadings to meet the requirements of the said Act.


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