The opinion of the court was delivered by: Miner, District Judge.
1. This is a libel filed by N.M. Paterson and Sons, Ltd. for
damage to the steamship Torondoc of $13,000, and a cross-libel by
respondent City of Chicago against libellant for damage to the
Dearborn Street Bridge of $10,569.35.
2. The libelant, N.M. Paterson & Sons, Ltd., a corporation duly
organized under the laws of the Dominion of Canada, was at all
times material hereto, the sole owner and operator of the
3. The respondent, City of Chicago, a municipal corporation
duly organized under the laws of the State of Illinois, was at
all times material hereto, the sole owner and operator of the
Dearborn Street Bridge, a highway bridge lying within the
territory of said municipality and spanning the Chicago River.
4. The impleaded respondent, The Great Lakes Towing Company, a
corporation duly organized under the laws of the State of New
Jersey, was at all times material hereto, the sole owner and
operator of the diesel tug Oregon, engaged in harbor towing at
the Port of Chicago, Illinois.
5. The Chicago River is a tributary to Lake Michigan and is a
part of the navigable waters of the United States.
6. The Dearborn Street Bridge was erected by respondent, City
of Chicago, pursuant to the terms of a permit of the Secretary of
War of the United States, issued in 1905. The structure was
completed in 1907, and rewired in 1939 at which time the conduits
were also replaced. On November 20, 1957, the structure was a
double leaf bascule-type bridge operated by employees of the City
7. At approximately midnight of November 19-20, 1957, the
Torondoc, which had been lying at the wharf at Time Incorporated,
above the Halsted Street Bridge in the south branch of the
Chicago River, commenced a trip down the river assisted by the
tug Oregon on a bow line. The steamer, being partly loaded,
proceeded north in the south branch of the Chicago river, turned
east at the bend before reaching the Franklin-Orleans Bridge, and
proceeded easterly through a series of bridges. Its destination
was the North Pier Terminal immediately west of the Outer Drive
Bridge over the Chicago river.
8. In the course of its trip down the river, the steamship
Torondoc, assisted by the tug Oregon, passed through four
bascule-type bridges which opened to allow such passage without
incident. These were the Franklin-Orleans Street, Wells Street,
La Salle Street and Clark Street Bridges.
9. At the time of the incident giving rise to this suit, there
were in effect certain regulations as follows: (a) by the Coast
Guard under authority of 33 U.S.C.A. § 241 relating to navagation
of the Great Lakes and waters tributary thereto; (b) by the
Secretary of the Army under authority of 33 U.S.C.A. § 499
relating to the operation of drawbridges over navigable waters
and the passage of vessels under such drawbridges; and (c)
ordinances promulgated by the City of Chicago regulating
drawbridges within its jurisdiction and the passage of vessels
through waters within its jurisdiction. For convenience, many of
these regulations have been compiled in a handbook entitled
"Great Lakes Pilot," a copy of which was available to the Master
of the steamship Torondoc in the course of the trip in question.
The Master of said ship was familiar with all regulations and
ordinances governing the navigation of his ship at the time in
"Every owner, officer, or person in charge of any
vessel, craft or float * * * shall sound or cause to
be sounded a whistle to signal bridge tenders to open
and swing bridges, and such signal shall be three
sharp, short sounds of the whistle, to be given in
succession as quickly as possible * * *."
11. In the course of its passage under each of the four bridges
mentioned in Finding 8 above, the Torondoc made no whistle sound.
12. The Dearborn Street Bridge of respondent, City of Chicago,
is the first bridge immediately east of and approximately 400
feet from the Clark Street Bridge.
13. The tenders of the Dearborn Street Bridge had been notified
by telephone message that the Torondoc was approaching from the
west before the Torondoc had rounded the bend above the
Franklin-Orleans Street Bridge.
14. The Coast Guard regulations promulgated under the authority
of 33 U.S.C.A. § 241 provide in part (33 C.F.R. p. 104):
"(a) Lift span lights. Each lift span of every
bascule bridge shall be lighted so that the free end
of the span will be marked on each side by a green
light which shows only when the span is fully open
for the passage of a vessel and by a red light which
shows for all other positions of the lift span."
15. The Dearborn Street Bridge was equipped with such lift span
lights marking the free end of each span. Each span of the
Dearborn Street Bridge was equipped with these lights on both
east and west sides, so that they could be seen by ships
proceeding either east or west in the Chicago river. These lights
were in operation on the night of November 19-20, 1957, and were
red when the Torondoc passed through the Clark Street Bridge
16. As the Torondoc passed through the Clark Street Bridge, the
Dearborn Street vehicular and pedestrian traffic-gates were
lowered preliminary to the opening of the Dearborn Street Bridge.
This, as well as the flashing lights warning automobile traffic
to cease crossing the Dearborn Street Bridge, was seen by the
officers of the approaching vessels.
17. As the bow of the Torondoc passed through the Clark Street
Bridge, the leaves of the Dearborn Street Bridge commenced to
rise. The south leaf rose approximately eight feet and by reason
of malfunction lowered down approximately four feet; the north
leaf rose about two-thirds upward toward the open position and
was then intentionally lowered to a position approximately ten
feet above the partly open south leaf. The lift span lights on
the bridge remained red during all pertinent times.
18. When the malfunction of the Dearborn Street Bridge became
apparent, the tug Oregon gave a danger signal consisting of five
short whistle blasts. The steamship Torondoc then put her engines
full speed astern in an attempt to reduce her forward motion. The
tug passed under the partly opened north leaf of the bridge. The
deck of the steamship Torondoc on the port side also passed under
the north leaf, but the pilot house, which extends upward from
the deck, struck the north leaf of the bridge. The deck of the
Torondoc on the starboard side struck the outer end of the south
leaf of the bridge.
19. At and prior to the collision, the steamship Torondoc
furnished and controlled her headway or speed without assistance
from the tug Oregon. The assistance furnished by the tug Oregon
consisted solely of occasional steering of the bow of the
Torondoc. The Torondoc worked her engines and used her helm
without signals from the tug Oregon. In moving east in the
Chicago river, including the area between the Clark Street bridge
and the Dearborn Street Bridge, the steamship Torondoc controlled
her own rate of speed.
20. When it became apparent to the navigator of the tug Oregon
that the Dearborn Street Bridge would not open for passage, there
was no way in which the tug Oregon could have assisted in slowing
or stopping the headway of the steamship Torondoc before contact
was made by it with the leaves of the bridge.
21. The collision of the steamship Torondoc and the Dearborn
Street Bridge occurred at approximately 1:00 A.M., Central
Standard Time, on November 20, 1957.
22. At the time of and prior to the collision, the master and a
wheelsman were in the pilot house of the steamship Torondoc, the
second mate was forward on the bow, and the third engineer was in
charge of the engine room. The master of the Torondoc, who had
been in command slightly longer than one month, was making his
second voyage down the Chicago river as a master of a ship. The
Torondoc was his first command.
23. The Municipal Code of the City of Chicago (§ 38-30)
provides, with respect to vessels passing under drawbridges,
"(a) Every vessel using steam * * * shall be moved
slowly at a speed not exceeding four miles per hour
under a low head of steam * * *."
"(b) Vessels exceeding two hundred tons navigating
the harbor shall not proceed at a speed greater than
four miles per hour."
24. The Torondoc was a vessel using steam, and also exceeded
two hundred tons net tonnage.
25. Up to and including the time when the Torondoc passed
through the Clark Street Bridge, it was traveling at a rate of
speed in excess of six miles per hour.
26. The officers of the Torondoc were aware of the malfunction
of the Dearborn Street Bridge in ample time to allow them to stop
had the ship been moving at or under the maximum permissible
speed of four miles per hour.
27. The malfunction of the south leaf of the Dearborn Street
Bridge was caused by a defective resistor-grid in the electrical
wiring system that activates the motors, as well as other
failures in the electrical system. The admittedly defective grid
was not preserved by the respondent City of Chicago.
28. Some of the factors which might have contributed to the
malfunctioning of the grid and entire electrical mechanism are
accumulation of dirt, moisture, age of grid insulation, continued
vibration, and movement of the bridge controller's switch too
rapidly, which latter factor could cause a sudden electrical
29. Some of the parts of the electrical mechanism, including
some of the resistor-grids, had been in use many years without
renewal or testing by the respondent City of Chicago.
30. There are relatively simple and inexpensive methods of
testing such equipment.
31. The regulations of the Secretary of the Army promulgated
under 33 U.S.C.A. § 499, applicable to navigation through the
Chicago river bridges, provide in part:
"(c)(2) If from any cause the bridge tender cannot
open the bridge, he shall immediately notify the
vessel by waving a red flag by day and a red lantern
by night and continue waving the same until the
vessel has stopped, continuing to display the same
until the bridge can be opened."
32. The agents and servants of respondent City of Chicago in
charge of the Dearborn Street Bridge did not give warning to the
steamhip Torondoc by waving a red lantern or any other
33. At the time of the collision of the steamship Torondoc with
the Dearborn Street Bridge, it was the policy of the respondent
City of Chicagos' bridge department, upon failure of one leaf of
a double-leaf bridge to open, to withhold raising the other leaf.
This policy was aimed at preventing ships from attempting to
navigate through a partly open bridge, as well as to eliminate
of automobile traffic to venture out onto a partly open bridge.
1. This Court has jurisdiction of the parties to and the
subject matter of this suit.
2. The regulations set forth in the findings of fact herein
have the force of law.
3. The steamhip Torondoc was negligent, among others, in the
(a) In traveling east in the Chicago river at a speed
substantially in excess of the maximum speed allowed under the
governing regulations set forth in Finding of Fact No. 23.
(b) In failing to sound its whistle upon approaching each of
the bridges west of the Dearborn Street Bridge, in violation of
the governing regulations set forth in Finding of Fact No. 10,
and thus failing to timely warn ...