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RICKARD v. PRINGLE

March 5, 1968

Robert RICKARD, Plaintiff,
v.
Ronald PRINGLE, Carl Helwig, Allan Boehm, Jay E. Porter, George Lindley, Sr. and George Lindley, Jr., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ABRUZZO

ABRUZZO, District Judge.

 This cause of action concerns the salvage by the Plaintiff Rickard during 1962 and 1963 of the propeller of the "Acara", which had been abandoned in 1902, following her having been stranded and sunk off of Point Lookout, Long Island, New York. This cause was instituted prior to the recent amendment and revision of the Rules of Practice in Admiralty and Maritime cases, but for purposes of this opinion, terminology under the new Rules will be used by this Court.

 A written Stipulation was entered into by the attorneys for both parties on May 12, 1967, which reads as follows:

 
"IT IS HEREBY STIPULATED by and between the proctor for the Libelant and the proctors for the Respondents herein that the following are the uncontested facts in this suit in admiralty. The Respondents admit to the allegations of the libel, and the position of the Respondents is simply that the propeller was not the property of the Libelant and therefore was theirs to take, and they so did. The Respondents do not admit that the Libelant owned the propeller or had the right to remove it from the wreck.
 
"Therefore, the only issue of law involved herein as to whether the Respondents acted within their rights and duties in so appropriating the said propeller."

 The facts alleged in the Complaint, all of which the Defendants have admitted to be true by the above Stipulation, which is filed with this Court, are as follows:

 
"THIRD: The Libelant, ROBERT RICKARD, in the summer of 1962, while diving off Point Lookout, Long Island, New York, in the Atlantic Ocean, came into contact with a derelict, the 'ACARA', commonly known as the 'TEA WRECK', which had sunk in 1902.
 
"FOURTH: The Libelant dived to the scene of the wreck and ascertained that the propellor, which was attached to the said derelict, was of great size and weight, and was intact, and that the said propellor bore the imprint, 'Manufactured by Stones Bronze Company of London, England'.
 
"FIFTH: The Libelant made an investigation in the United States and in England and ascertained that J. Stone Co. (Propellors) Ltd. of London, England, had become the successor to Stones Bronze Co. about the year 1894. The Libelant contacted the said successor Company and was informed that the said Company was willing to purchase said propellor as an antique, and as an example of the Company's early propellors providing the said propellor could be removed from the said derelict, 'ACARA'.
 
"SIXTH: The Libelant also ascertained that the said propellor was of such a nature as a marine antique that its salvage would be an exciting event in the maritime world; that a marine museum would be interested in its display; that it interested marine engineers and naval architects because of its ancient design and its use to propel ships in the era of its manufacture; that the propellor's metallurgic composition was of great importance because of its resistance to the ravages of time and the sea.
 
"SEVENTH: The Libelant commenced salvage operations in the fall of the year, 1962, on the derelict, 'ACARA', and worked during the entire winter of 1962-1963 on the said propellor.
 
"EIGHTH: The Libelant placed floating buoys at the scene of the said salvage operation.
 
"NINTH: Once having commenced the salvage work on the said derelict, the Libelant never abandoned his work on this project, nor did he ask for assistance at any time from any of the respondents in this project.
 
"TENTH: The Libelant purchased special machinery, equipment and supplies, expending the total sum of One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventeen and 96/100 ($1717.96) Dollars for the specific purpose of ...

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