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The Weekly Record, December 17, 1887

Supreme Court
Hutchins vs. Bowring & Manuel.
Percy vs. Tidern

(Before Mr. Justice Pinsent and a Special Jury.)



These were two actions arising out of a collision between the Plover and the Trixie H. at sea in Trinity Bay. The one action was for the loss of the vessel, and the other for damages on account of loss of goods. As the evidence in both cases would be similar, by consent of both parties the two actions were consolidated in the one trial.

The facts were few, but upon tme arose several serious and important questions.

It appears that the Trixie H. was reaching across Trinity Bay, on a W.N.W. course, making for the north shore of the bay. The Plover was coming from Trinity to Old Perlican, on a S.E. course. When about half the bay over the Trixie H. saw the masthead light of the steamer, and shortly after saw the starboard light (green). The Trixie H. alleges she held her course until within 50 or 60 yards of the steamer, when seening the collision was inevitable she starboarded her helm to avoid the accident. The Plover saw the Trixie H. when about 60 yards distant - too late to avoid striking her - and one of the witnesses for the defence admitted that the action of the Trixie H. in starboarding her helm was the only thing that could have been done under the sircumstances. The defendant, however, contended that the light on the Trixie H. could not be seen, and that she altered her course, or must have altered her course, long before she admitted the course was altered. The most remarkable fact stated for the defendant was that there was no officer on the deck of the steamer at the time of the collision, and that the look-out at the bows was compelled to run aft to the bridge to give the signal for the engines to reverse. The evidence of both parties as to the known facts did not materially differ.

The following special issues were put to the jury by the presiding Judge at the close of his charge:-

  1. Were the defendant chargeable with negligence or mismanagement in navigation of the Plover.
  2. If so did such negligence or mismanagement cause or contribute to the collision with the Plover.
  3. Were the plaintiffs chargeable with negligence or mismanagement in the manamgment of the Trixie H.
  4. If so did such mismanagement or negligence contribute to the collision in such a way as that, but for it the collision would have have happened from the acts of the steamer, or was it such that the collision woul dwhether or not have happened from the acts of the steamer.
  5. If you find the steamer solely to blame, or that the collision would have happened from her acts alone, although the schooner may have been also to blame, you will find for the plaintiff for the full value of ship and cargo, less any clear salvage which with care and reasonable exertion might have been or may now be realized from the wreck.
  6. If you find that both the steamer and schr. were in fault, to the extent of both contributing to the collision, then you will decide the loss between them, and find against the defendants for half thereof, in the case of the "Trixie H." claim, and for the full amount of the goods at a fair valuation, subject to salvage reduction in Percey's case.
  7. If you find that, the schooner was solely at fault, or in other words, was the sole cause of the collision, yo will find for the defendants.

The special jury, after grave deliberation brouth in a verdict for Hutchins for $1,600, the value of the Trixie H., and for $1,040 for Percey's goods. Mr. Kent, Q.C., and Mr. Emerson for plaintif; Sir W. V. Whiteway and Mr. Johnson for defendants.




Page transcribed by: James Butler, 2001
Page revised: Oct. 2002 (Terry Piercey)

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