Archawski v. Hanioti


DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1955-1956)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

ARGUED: Mar 05, 1956
DECIDED: Apr 09, 1956

Facts of the case


Media for Archawski v. Hanioti

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 05, 1956 in Archawski v. Hanioti

Earl Warren:

Number 351, R.V. Archawski et al. versus Basil Hanioti.

Mr. Graham.

Harry D. Graham:

If it please the Court.

Well, this is -- may I start Your Honor?

Yes, you may proceed.

Now, this is an admiralty action involving some 350 odd passengers who, back in 1947, prepaid passage fares for voyages on board a Honduran flagship known as the City of Athens, to various ports in Europe.

They had prepaid their fares for someone as prior to July of 1947 and the voyage as to which they had prepaid their fares were to commence with the voyage on July the 17th and thereafter.

The respondent, on the appointed date, did not provide the vessel to carry these passengers.

The vessel having been liable by a statutory creditor or lienor, and he was, therefore -- he therefore default and then providing the transportation for these passengers, and these passengers sued in admiralty for the recovery of the prepaid fares which they had paid, which they received no transportation.

They received the decree in the District Court through Southern District of New York and they extended their respective fares which they paid and the Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decree of the District Court holding that the jurisdiction of the causes of action for these passengers was not within admiralty.

And because (Inaudible) comes to this Court on writ -- writ of certiorari granted on October the 24th, 1955, the questions involved are whether admiralty has jurisdiction of action seeking recovery of prepaid passage moneys paid as consideration on the maritime contracts of transportation?

Which maritime contracts have breached by nonperformance?

The second question is whether the jurisdiction of the subject matter, in admiralty, after the proofs are in, is controlled by allocations of the libel or by the proofs as reconciled to the libel, in other words, the scope of review in a Court of Appeals.

And the third question involved is whether the Circuit Court of Appeals actually had jurisdiction to review the District Court decree.

The facts, as found by the District Court, comes to this Court undisturbed by the Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the libel, the libelants alleged subordinate allocation showing fraud upon the part of the respondent such as absconding, concealing himself, making himself judgment proof during the time endeavoring to procure jurisdiction over him to pursue their causes of action.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the causes of action for these passengers was simply the old common law, form of indebitatus assumpsit, money having received in which admiralty had no jurisdiction.

Our contention is that admiralty does have jurisdiction.

The jurisdiction is conferred by the Constitution of the United States, Article 3 Section 2, conferring judicial power in the federal courts to all cases of admiralty in maritime jurisdiction.

Now, the jurisdiction on the federal courts, some few years shortly after the adoption of the Constitution was a subject for Congress.

And Congress, in 1789, rendered a legislative interpretation of the meaning of Article 3 of the Constitution and the scope of jurisdiction.

In 1848, this Court rendered its first decision wherein it covered the jurisdiction of admiralty over contract actions which prior to that -- prior to 1848, apparently had not existed.

In that particular case, the New Jersey Steam Navigation against Merchants' Bank, now this Court held that it's the subject matter of the contract which determines the jurisdiction of the Court.

And once the admiralty has jurisdiction of the contract, the jurisdiction may not be confined to any one particular remedy on the contract, but all remedies are -- are available.

But the question then now as it's (Inaudible) down here, whether or not, because these petitioners brought their actions on admiralty, the remedies are less than they would have, had they pursued them at common law if they were able to pursue them in a common lower court.

Now, it has been held by this Court that freight is to consideration for the use of vessels.

And that it applies also to the consideration paid by passengers for their transportation.

Now, whether the transportation be for cargo, for cadavers, or for human beings, the consideration is freight.

And that the -- the term "freight" is one which is always been within the jurisdiction of admiralty and the shipowner, for many years, has always been able to sue an admiralty to recover freight which he has earned for the performance of the contract of maritime transportation.

There had never been any question about that.