North Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Commercial Bank
123 U.S. 727 (1887)

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U.S. Supreme Court

North Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Commercial Bank, 123 U.S. 727 (1887)

North Pennsylvania Railroad Company v. Commercial Bank of Canada

Argued November 22-23, 1887

Decided December 19, 1887

123 U.S. 727

Syllabus

A Circuit Court of the United States may direct a verdict for the plaintiff when it is clear from all the evidence in the case that he is entitled to recover, and no matter affecting his claim is left in doubt to be determined by the jury.

The undertaking of a common carrier to transport livestock, though differing in some respects from the responsibility assumed in the carriage of ordinary goods, includes the delivery of the livestock.

Page 123 U. S. 728

When a railroad company receives livestock for transportation by means of connecting lines to a named consignee or to his order at a destination beyond its terminus, and gives a receipt or bill of lading in accordance therewith, and delivers the property safely to the next connecting line, from which it finally passes into the possession of the connecting company on whose line the point of destination is, the latter company is bound to deliver the property there to the consignee or to his order, if they are made known to it on receiving the freight, and it is not released from that liability by reason of a practice or custom to deliver all such freight to a drove-yard company without requiring the production of the bill of lading or receipt, or other authority of the shipper, knowledge of the practice or custom not being brought home to the holder of such receipt, bill of lading, or other authority.

A railroad company received livestock to be transported over its line and over connecting lines to a distant point beyond its terminus. It gave the shipper a receipt stating that they were "consigned to order P.M." (who was also shipper and owner), "notify J.B." at the point of destination. The goods were safely transported to that point. The agents of the last transporting line received with the property a waybill containing the same statements as to the consignee, and as to the party to be notified. Held that knowledge of the destination and the consignee of the goods being thus brought to the notice of the company which carried the goods to their destination, it became its duty to deliver, or to instruct its agents to deliver, the property only to the consignee or his order, and that a delivery of the property to J.B. after such knowledge would not avail as a defense when sued for its value by a bank at the place of shipment, which had discounted a bill drawn by the shipper, and secured by an endorsement of the receipt as collateral.

This was an action brought by the Commercial National Bank of Chicago against the North Pennsylvania Railroad Company to recover the value of 404 head of cattle received by it in November, 1877, to transport to Philadelphia, and not delivered there to the plaintiff, the assignee of the shipper, or to its order. The facts out of which it arose are briefly as follows:

In 1877, one Paris Myrick was engaged at Chicago in the business of buying cattle and forwarding them by railway to Philadelphia. On the 7th of November of that year, he bought 202 head of cattle, weighing 240,000 pounds, and on the same day delivered them to the Michigan Central Railroad Company at Chicago, to be transported to Philadelphia. That company is one of several railway carriers forming a

Page 123 U. S. 729

continuous line from Chicago to Philadelphia. On the delivery of the cattle, Myrick took from the company the following receipt:

"MICHIGAN CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY"

"CHICAGO STATION, November 7, 1877"

"Received from Paris Myrick in apparent good order. Consigned to order Paris Myrick."

"Notify J. & W. Blaker, Philadelphia, Pa."

"Articles Marked Weight or measure "

"Two hundred & two (202) Cattle. 240,000"

"Advanced charges, $12.00."

"Marked and described as above (contents and value otherwise unknown), for transportation by the Michigan Central Railroad Company to the warehouse at . . . ."

"Notice. See rules of transportation on the back hereof."

"Use separate receipts for each consignment."

"WM. GROGAN, Agent"

On the margin of the receipt was the following notice:

"This company will not hold itself responsible for the accuracy of these weights as between buyer and seller; the approximate weight having been ascertained by track scales, which is sufficiently accurate for freighting purposes, but may not be strictly correct as between buyer and seller."

"This receipt can be exchanged for a through bill of lading."

On the same day, Myrick drew and delivered to the Commercial National Bank of Chicago a draft, of which the following is a copy:

"$12,287.57 CHICAGO, November 7, 1877"

"Pay to the order of George L. Otis, cashier, twelve thousand two hundred and eighty-seven 57/100 dollars, value received, and charge the same to account of -- PARIS MYRICK."

"To J. & W. Blaker, Newtown, Bucks Co., Pa."

As security for the payment of the draft, Myrick endorsed the receipt obtained from the railroad company, and delivered

Page 123 U. S. 730

it with the draft to the bank, which thereupon gave him the money.

On the 14th of November, Myrick purchased 202 more head of cattle, weighing 260,000 pounds, and on that day delivered them to the Michigan Central Railroad Company at Chicago, to be transported to Philadelphia, and received from the company a similar receipt to the one taken on the first shipment. On the same day, he drew another draft, and delivered it to the Commercial National Bank, of which the following is a copy:

"$12,448.12 CHICAGO, November 14, 1877"

"Pay to the order of Geo. L. Otis, cashier, twelve thousand four hundred & forty-eight 12/100 dollars, value received, and charge same to account of --"

"PARIS MYRICK"

"To J. & W. Blaker, Newtown, Bucks Co., Pa."

For the payment of this draft, Myrick endorsed the receipt obtained from the railroad company, and delivered it, with the draft, to the bank, which thereupon gave him the money. The cattle of both shipments were conveyed on the road of the Michigan Central Railroad Company to Detroit, and thence over the roads of other connecting companies to Philadelphia. The last two carriers were the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company and the North Pennsylvania Railroad Company, whose lines extended between Waverly, Tioga County, New York, and Philadelphia. The cattle of both shipments were carried over the roads of these companies from Waverly on their joint waybills. The thirteen covering the first shipment were dated November 10, 1877, and 12 of them were alike except in the number of cattle carried under them. The following is a copy of one of them:

Page 123 U. S. 731

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In the thirteenth joint waybill of the first shipment the words "Notify J. & W. Blaker" were omitted.

The joint waybills covering the second shipment were dated November 17, 1877, but, like the thirteenth joint waybill of the first shipment, they did not contain the words "Notify J. & W. Blaker" after the name of the consignee or owner. In other respects, except in the number of cattle carried, they were similar to those covering the first shipment.

The cattle of both shipments arrived in Philadelphia, the first on November 11 and the second on November 18 -- and were immediately delivered by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company to the North Philadelphia Drove-Yard Company, which was formed for the business of receiving, taking care of, and delivering livestock to their owners or consignees. This company notified the Blakers of the arrival of the cattle and delivered them to those parties. The Blakers were dealers in cattle, and had particular pens in the yard assigned to them. The cattle of both shipments were placed in these pens by the agent of the railroad company at the drove-yard station, and he then wrote on the thirteenth joint waybill of the first shipments, and on all the joint waybills of the last shipment from Waverly, under the name of the consignee or owner, these words: "Ac. J. & W. Blaker." On the day after they arrived and were placed in these pens, in each case, the Blakers sold the cattle and appropriated the proceeds. The cattle of both shipments were delivered by the railroad company to the drove-yard company without any direction to hold the cattle subject to

Page 123 U. S. 732

the order of the consignee, who was also the owner and shipper, and the cattle were delivered to the Blakers without such order. It does not appear that any demand was made by the railroad company or by the drove-yard company for anything to show the right of those parties to receive the cattle. The bank transmitted the drafts for collection, with the carriers' receipts attached, to its correspondent at Newtown, Pennsylvania. The Blakers were notified of the receipt of the drafts, but failed to accept them, and they were protested for nonacceptance November 27, 1877. They disposed of the cattle before the arrival of the drafts and carriers' receipts, and soon afterwards failed, and the drafts were not paid.

It appeared in evidence that Myrick had previously made numerous shipments of cattle from Chicago to Philadelphia, and taken similar receipts from the Michigan Central Railroad Company; that these cattle had been received by the North Pennsylvania Railroad Company and delivered by it at Philadelphia to the drove-yard company; that it had been the practice of that railroad company to deliver the cattle to the drove-yard company, and of the latter company to deliver them to the Blakers without the production of the carrier's receipt or any bill of lading, or any order of the shipper for their delivery. It also appeared that there was no knowledge on the part of the Commercial Bank at Chicago, or of its correspondent at Newtown, of any such practice; that drafts of Myrick, cashed by that bank, had accompanied previous shipments of cattle; that such drafts, upon notice to the Blakers of their receipt, had always been promptly paid, and that the bills of lading (the carriers' receipts in question) were not surrendered to the Blakers until such payment.

Upon these facts, the Commercial National Bank originally recovered a verdict and judgment against the Michigan Central Railroad Company, the court below holding that the receipts of that company constituted contracts to carry the cattle from Chicago to Philadelphia, and deliver them there to the shipper or to his order; but the judgment was reversed by this Court on the ground that a through contract for their carriage was not established by those receipts, and that the

Page 123 U. S. 733

question of whether or not there was such a contract for their carriage should have been submitted to the jury to determine from the circumstances of the case. Myrick v. Michigan Central Railroad Co.,107 U. S. 102. The present action was subsequently brought against the North Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the last of the series of railroad carriers in the line from Chicago to Philadelphia, for the nondelivery at Philadelphia of the cattle of both shipments to the order of the shipper, as designated in the receipts given to him at Chicago and in the waybills given at Waverly -- that is, to his assignee, the plaintiff herein. Upon the evidence in the case, which developed the facts substantially as stated, the court directed a verdict for the plaintiff for the amount of its claim. A verdict was accordingly rendered for $34,271.41, which was the amount of the drafts, with interest from their dates. The cattle sold in November, 1877, for a sum greater than the amount of both drafts. Judgment being entered on the verdict, the case was brought to this Court for review.

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