and the other oriented upstream, and one 360-degree light
which was visible from all directions. All lights were
flashing green lights, operated automatically and powered by
batteries. The 360-degree light was equipped with an automatic
bulb changer, activated by extinguishment of the bulb in use,
which achieved the replacement of an extinguished bulb in
about 40 seconds time. The bulbs in the fixed directional
lights which required manual replacement were longer-lifed
bulbs than that used in the 360-degree light. All light bulbs,
lighting mechanism and batteries were fully protected against
water, wind and vibration.
Each of the lights atop Drolls tower was visible, even in
hazy weather, from a distance of at least 3 miles.
18. As a proximate result of the collision, libelant was
compelled to rebuild Drolls Point Light and to prepare and
maintain a temporary navigation aid until the rebuilding was
completed, whereby libelant incurred reasonable costs and
expenses in the amount of $12,186.99.
19. Libelant has proved its libel, and each count thereof,
and is entitled to judgment in its favor against each of the
respondent vessels for its reasonable costs and expenses
occasioned by the damage to the Light and for statutory
20. Cross-libelant, Martin Oil Service, Inc., has failed to
prove its claimed right of action against libelant by a
preponderance of the evidence.
Conclusions of Law
1. This court has jurisdiction of the action, and venue is
properly laid in the Southern District of Illinois.
2. Colliding with a stationary light tower, properly charted
and at its known location, in itself raises a presumption of
negligence and fault. The Virginia Erhman, 97 U.S. 309, 315,
24 L.Ed. 890; Inland & Seaboard Coasting Co. v. Tolson,
139 U.S. 551, 554-555, 11 S.Ct. 653, 35 L.Ed. 270; The Cromwell,
4 Cir., 259 F. 166, 168; General American Transp. Corp. v. The
Patricia Chotin, D.C.E.D.La., 120 F. Supp. 246, 249. Not only
was this presumption not rebutted by respondents, but
negligence and lack of reasonable care in the operation of
respondent vessels were affirmatively proved.
3. The respondent vessels are liable to the libelant for
damages resulting from the actionable negligence of
repondents' owners and their agents, as hereinabove found,
which proximately resulted in the damage to Drolls Point
4. The M/V Martin and the Barge MOS-101 were, and each of
them was, on April 19, 1956, a vessel used and employed within
the meaning of the provisions of 33 U.S.C.A. § 412, in injuring
and damaging Drolls Point Light, a work built by the United
States for the preservation and improvement of its navigable
waters, in violation of 33 U.S.C.A. § 408.
5. As a consequence of the collision, libelant incurred the
reasonable costs and expenses of $12,186.99. Libelant is
entitled to recover its reasonable costs and expenses upon
each theory stated in the libel, namely, in admiralty, for
damages proximately resulting from the negligent operation of
the respondent vessels and, also, under 33 U.S.C.A. § 412, for
damage to the light occasioned by the collision therewith of
the respondent vessels.
6. Libelant is entitled to recover a pecuniary penalty
against each of the respondent vessels pursuant to the
provisions of 33 U.S.C.A. § 412, with reference to 33 U.S.C.A.
§§ 408 and 411. The penalty provisions of the Section impose
absolute liability, in rem, against any vessel violating the
Act, regardless of the negligence or intent of the owners or
masters of the vessel. United States v. The Terry E. Buchanan,
D.C.S.D.N.Y., 138 F. Supp. 754; United States v. The Republic
No. 2, D.C.S.D.Tex., 64 F. Supp. 373.
7. Libelant is entitled to judgment in its favor dismissing
the cross-libel herein; and to judgment in its favor against
each of the respondent vessels in the amount of $12,186.99,
with interest at 6% per annum from April 19, 1956, against the
respondent, M/V Martin, for a pecuniary penalty in the sum of
$500, and against the respondent, Barge MOS-101, for a
pecuniary penalty in the sum of $500, together with its costs.
Judgment is ordered accordingly.
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