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Parrish v. Danford.
for much more than they were worth ; but the plaintiff insists that the firm was not insolvent, and that if not insolvent, though the effect of the sale would be to defeat and defraud individual creditors, the sale is valid unless the plaintiff had knowledge that such would be the effect, and that the vendors intended a fraud. I do not see readily how this distinction can be made, if the jury shall find that the firm was not insolvent. The insolvency of the individual members of a firm is equivalent to the insolvency of the firm itself, since it is clear that the whole assets and property of the individuals are liable for the whole amount of the firm debts. In other words, I can not understand how a firm can be said to be solvent if there exists an individual indebtedness of its members which exceeds the entire assets and property of the firm. It is clear that a firm, with a knowledge that its members are individually insolvent, has no right, moral or legal, to dispose of firm property under circumstances that will render such disposition a fraud on the creditors of the individual members.
It will be for the jury to inquire: 1. Whether Brownrig & Parrish, individually and as partners, were in debt beyond their means of payment; 2. Whether the plaintiff
, from all the circumstances in proof, is chargeable with notice of such insolvency. If the jury are satisfied of the insolvency of Brownrig & Parrish, there is a strong presumption of fraud, so far as they are concerned, in making the sale to the plaintiff. It is not intended to refer to all the facts connected with this sale. The inquiry for the jury will be, did Brownrig & Parrish intend by the sale of the property to put it beyond the reach of their creditors ? In determining this inquiry the jury will look to the facts : 1. Were they insolvent? 2. Was the property they were to receive so situated as that it could be made available to their creditors ? In connection with the last inquiry, the jury will very properly consider the fact that the convey
Parrish v. Danford.
ances made by Stephen Parrish of the lands to be given by the plaintiff under the contract, were made to the wives of Brownrig and E. M. Parrish. This would seem clearly to justify the inference that the land was intended to be placed beyond the reach of creditors. If the jury are satisfied that there was a fraudulent purpose by Brownrig & Parrish in making this sale, their next inquiry will be, is the plaintiff chargeable with a knowledge of the fraud ? It is insisted by plaintiff's counsel that plaintiff had been residing in a distant State for several years, and returning to Noble county, found Brownrig & Parrish in possession of a store, doing business, and in credit, and had no reason to suppose they were insolvent when he made the purchase, and is not chargeable with knowledge of the insolvency, or of any fraudulent intent in selling these goods. This subject has been so fully discussed that I will not detain the jury by restating the evidence. It will be for the jury to say whether, from all the facts, the plaintiff was a party to this transaction, with the knowledge that it would result in defrauding the creditors of Brownrig & Parrish. · If they decide this affirmatively, it will result, necessarily, that the sale was fraudulent and void. If, on the other hand, the jury find the plaintiff had no grounds to conclude or suspect a fraud in the sale of the goods, and that he has paid a good consideration for them, the sale, so far as he is concerned, may be sustained. The plaintiff's knowledge can only be deduced from the circumstances of the case ; but may be so presumed if the facts justify it. It is, however, insisted that the plaintiff was himself insolvent and unable to give or pay any fair consideration for the goods, and that thus he had no right to make the purchase, and that it was a fraud on his part to make such purchase. The court will not refer to the evidence on this point, but will say that if the plaintiff was insolvent at the time of the purchase, it would be a clear indication of fraud on his part. The jury will remember the evidence on this subject. It would appear that he has dealt largely in western lands,
Mills v. Steamboat Nathaniel Holmes.
and has laid out a city in Iowa. Deeds have been produced showing the legal title to these lands to be in his brother, Stephen Parrish. It is claimed, however, that the land is really the plaintiff's, and that it is of value. If the jury find a fraudulent intent by the parties to this sale and purchase, that is, a design to defraud creditors, the fact that a full consideration was paid will not make it valid. If the jury find the defendants trespassers, they will give such damages as they think just. The damages should be the value of the property taken from the plaintiff, and the expenses and trouble in prosecuting this suit. If the jury believe that the sheriff and those whose assistance he required have acted in a wanton and oppressive manner, they may give exemplary damages. If the jury believe that in issuing the writs of attachment, or in any other proceedings connected with this transaction, the defendants, or any of them, have been parties to a combination or conspiracy to injure the plaintiff, it may justly form an element in the assessment of damages.
The jury returned a verdict for defendants.
JAMES W. MILLS ET AL. V. THE STEAMBOAT NATHANIEL
Where damage is done by a boat in motion to one lying at a wharf, the
presumption of wrong is against the moving boat, and to avoid liabil. ity it must appear that the greatest caution and vigilance were ob
served. Ordinary care under such circumstances will not protect the boat which
commits the injury from responsibility. No inference of negligence can be deduced from the fact that a steamboat
lying at a wharf has a loaded barge alongside of her.
Mills v. Steamboat Nathaniel Holmes.
It is a paramount law of navigation that collisions are always to be
avoided when it is practicable to do so, and the fact that one boat is in fault, will not justify another in the infliction of an injury that
could have been avoided by the observance of proper skill and care. In determining the question of fault with the view to the ascertainment of
liability for an injury, the proximate cause of the injury must be regarded.
Lincoln, Smith & Warnock, for libellants. :
E. Mills, for respondents.
OPINION OF THE COURT:
This suit is prosecuted by the libellants, the owners of the steamboat Cuba, against the owners of the steamboat Nathaniel Holmes, to recover damages for a collision, caused as alleged by the sole fault of those having charge of the Holmes. It is not the usual case of an injury produced by colliding boats in motion, in which truth is often buried deep in a mass of conflicting evidence, and in which it is a hopeless task to ascertain where the fault lies. There is,
, in fact, very little difficulty in coming to a conclusion upon the evidence, and the main duty of the court is to determine the legal liability of the respondents upon the state of facts as proved. In this aspect of the case, it will not be necessary to notice specially the allegations of the parties in their pleadings, or to attempt an analysis of the great mass of depositions which have been submitted by the parties.
The material facts involved in the case, and which it may be assumed are substantially proved by the evidence, are that about nine o'clock in the evening of December 4, 1856, the Cuba, a stern-wheel boat, then one of a line of packets running between Louisville and Nashville, in an upward trip, reached the landing at Smithland, on the Obio river, a short distance below the mouth of the Cumberland, and was lying at the wharf-boat, its bow being on a line with the upper end of the wharf-boat, in the act of receiving freight for Nashville and other points on the Cumberland.
Mills v. Steamboat Nathaniel Holmes.
A barge laden with coal, belonging to the owners of the Cuba, was lashed to the outer or larboard side of the steamer and in close proximity to it. The wharf-boat was two hundred and thirty-seven feet in length, and the Cuba with its wheel about one hundred and seventy feet, thus leaving an unoccupied space at the lower portion of the wharf-boat, including a gangway, of about sixty-seven feet. The Cumberland river was at a high stage and there was sufficient depth of water along the whole line of the larboard side of the wharf-boat to enable a steamer of the largest size to land without danger of getting aground. It was a clear starlight night, the wind blowing somewhat fresh, but not with such violence as to render navigation difficult or dangerous. There were lights on the wharf-boat, and also the usual lights on the Cuba. The steamer Holmes in passing up the Ohio between ten and twelve o'clock in the night mentioned, had occasion to land at Smithland for the purpose of putting out some passengers. The object of the pilot or master was to bring the Holmes in contact with the barge lying alongside of the Cuba, and thus enable the passengers to get ashore. In this attempt the bow of the Holmes first struck the barge, but was carried out into the stream by the action of the current or some other cause and swung round, and the boat was again brought “ head on” against the barge. The passengers were landed and the Holmes proceeded immediately up the river.
It appears very satisfactorily from the testimony, that some pieces of timber or scantling, which had formed a part of the frame work of a flat-boat some five or six feet in length, bad been carried by the current and were lodged under the larboard guard of the Cuba and at a right angle with it, and were thus lying between the steamer and the barge. By the force of the blow of the Holmes in striking the barge, the ends of these timbers or scantling, which were some four or five inches square, were driven with such force against the hull of the Cuba that they penetrated the planks which were two and a half inches in thickness,