82 U.S. 450
21 L.Ed. 203
15 Wall. 450
December Term, 1872
ERROR to the Circuit Court for the District of Louisiana, in which court Tweed sued Flanders, deputy general agent of the Treasury Department of the United States, to recover damages caused by an alleged unlawful seizure and detention of certain cotton of his, Tweed's. Judgment being given for the plaintiff the treasury agent appealed.
Mr. S. F. Phillips, Solicitor-General, for the plaintiff in error; Mr. T. D. Lincoln, contra.
Mr. Justice CLIFFORD stated the case, and delivered the opinion of the court.
Tweed claims that he was the owner of four hundred and ninety-five bales of cotton; that the defendant, on the sixth of March, 1866, unlawfully seized and took the same into his possession, and that he unlawfully detained the cotton until the fifteenth of May in the same year, when he, the plaintiff, obtained possession of the cotton by virtue of two writs of sequestration which he instituted in the same court for that purpose, and that he expressly reserved the right to recover damages for the seizure and detention of the cotton in his petition in each of the sequestration suits; that the cotton declined in value to the amount of thirty thousand dollars during the period the possession of the same was unlawfully withheld from the possession of the plaintiff by the defendant; that in consequence of said unlawful detention of the cotton, the plaintiff was compelled to pay and did pay interest to the amount of one hundred and sixty dollars, and insurance to the amount of two hundred dollars, and storage to the amount of one thousand dollars; that he was compelled to institute the two suits of sequestration to recover the possession of the cotton, and that he was compelled to pay and did pay counsel fees, clerk's fees, and marshal's fees to the further amount of seven thousand dollars. He also charges that the defendant, during the period he wrongfully withheld the possession of the cotton from the plaintiff, sent fifty bales of the same to be rebaled, whereby the cotton in those bales was diminished in value to the amount of one thousand dollars, for all which he claims damages in the sum of thirty-nine thousand three hundred and sixty dollars.
Service was made and the defendant appeared and filed an answer in which, among other things, he alleged that he was a deputy general agent of the Treasury Department; that the cotton, before and at the time the writs of sequestration were issued, was in his custody and control as such officer, and that it was held by him as an official act in administering the laws of Congress in relation to the States in insurrection and rebellion; that the cotton, when the plaintiff caused the same to be seized, sequestered, and taken into the custody of the officer of the court, was, by virtue of his possession under color of those laws, in the due and actual custody, control, and possession of the United States, and that the issuing and executing the writs of sequestration and taking the cotton into possession by the officer under the same were in all respects acts of lawless and unjustifiable trespass and violence.
Evidence was introduced to the jury, and the jury, under the instructions of the court, returned their verdict in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendant excepted and removed the cause into this court.
Exceptions were taken by the defendant to the instructions given by the court to the jury, but the counsel for the United States who appear for the defendant submit the exceptions without argument. None of the questions presented in the exceptions are assigned for error, and in view of the circumstances the court does not deem it necessary to re-examine those questions.
Nothing remains for the consideration of the court except the error assigned founded upon the verdict of the jury, from which it appears that they found damages in favor of the plaintiff, as follows:
For decline in cotton,........... $6,994 35
" insurance premiums,...............160 00
" lawyer's fees,................. 6,000 00
" storage,....................... 1,000 00
" clerk's and marshal's fee,..... 1,126 13