Limitation of Liability Hearings




New York Times
24 June 1913

Lawyers Want Commission to Examine Woman as to Titanic Wreck.

An application was made tto Judge Hand yesterday in the Federal District Court for the appointment of a commission to take evidence in Europe in connection with the Titanic disaster. All the lawyers who have been concerned in the complicated litigation arising out of the wreck were present, and one motion was made to send an open commission, that is a commission before which witnesses could be examined as though in court, to London to examine orally the employes of the White Star Line in connection with the death of a steerage passenger, the son of Thomas Ryan, and another to send a closed commission, by which questions could be submitted only in writing, to take the testimony of Elizabeth S. Lines in Paris. It is alleged that Mrs. Lines overheard an important conversation between the late Capt. Smith, commander or the Titanic, and. J. Bruce Ismay, Managing Director of the White Star Line.

A. Gordon Murray, counsel for many claimants, was not certain about the wisdom of sending these commissions. He said he thought that it was the duty of the White Star Line to produce the surviving members of the Titanic's crew at the trial as witnesses, as, if a commission took their testimony, the case would be complicated.

Charles C. Burlingham and J. Parker Kirlin, counsel for the White Star Line, opposed the motion for the appointment of these commissions on the ground that in an Admiralty proceeding the court had no power to grant an open commission. They said that as the sailors employed by the White Star Line made periodical trips to this port they could be examined here. They held that the motion papers with regard to the exam­ination of Mrs. Lines in Paris were too vague and gave no grounds for such a proceeding.

Judge Hand took the papers in the case under consideration.