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 In The Schooner Catharine v. Dickinson, 17 How. 170, the Court established in admiralty law the rule of divided damages. That rule, most commonly applied in cases of collision between two vessels, requires the equal division of property damage whenever both parties are found to be guilty of contributing fault, whatever the relative degree of their fault may have been. The operation of the rule was described in The Sapphire, 18 Wall. 51, 56: 'It is undoubtedly the rule in admiralty that where both vessels are in fault the sums representing the damage sustained by each must be added together and the aggregate divided between the two. This is in effect deducting the lesser from the greater and dividing the remainder…. If one in fault has sustained no injury, it is liable for half the damages sustained by the other, though that other was also in fault.'


Similarly, in The North Star, 106 U.S. 17, 22, the rule was thus stated: '[A]ccording to the general maritime law, in cases of collision occurring by the fault of both parties, the entire damage to both ships is added together in one common mass and equally divided ...

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