Elleda Wilson: In One Ear: Mr. Pond's lawsuit

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Jul. 22—The Daily Astorian, July 12, 1885, included the result of a lawsuit by William S. Pond against the Pacific Coast Steamship Co., owner of the Queen of the Pacific (pictured).

Pond was one of the almost 300 passengers aboard when she ran aground on Clatsop Spit on Sept. 5, 1883. And there the Queen sat, stuck and "quivering" for several hours, until rescue tugs arrived to disembark the passengers.

"Part of the cargo was served like Jonah," the newspaper reported, "while the passengers were taken off in tugs and lifeboats. According to Pond's account, he was particularly active, and aided in manning a lifeboat.

"While doing his duty like a brave man, Mrs. Bosworth, one of the passengers, was thrown from the deck of the Queen into the lifeboat. She landed in such a way as to almost knock the life out of Pond.

"By this unfortunate accident Pond was severely injured, and claimed that the trouble was caused by the carelessness of defendants' servants, and brought suit to recover $25,000 in damages ($700,200 today)."

Pond, who was "not as shallow as the name might lead one to suppose," then pulled off a shady maneuver. As soon as the lawsuit was initiated, he began side negotiations with the steamship company, and agreed to accept a $1,000 settlement ($28,000 today).

Once Mr. Pond had his payoff in hand, he promptly skedaddled, "for parts unknown." Unfortunately, as a result, Judge Matthew Paul Deady ordered a judgment of non-suit, leaving Pond's lawyers stuck with paying all of the costs in the case, which was "a considerable sum."

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