Missouri, Kansas & Texas Ry. Co. v. Harriman - 227 U.S. 657 (1913)
U.S. Supreme Court
Missouri, Kansas & Texas Ry. Co. v. Harriman, 227 U.S. 657 (1913)
Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company v. Harriman
Argued January 20, 1913
Decided March 10, 1913
227 U.S. 657
Adams Express Co. v. Croninger, 226 U. S. 491, and Kansas City Southern Ry. v. Carl, ante, p. 227 U. S. 639, followed to effect that the shipper who values his goods for the purpose of obtaining the lower of two duly published rates, based on valuation, is estopped from recovering a greater amount than his own valuation, and that the Carmack Amendment to the Hepburn Act of 1906 expresses the policy of Congress on this subject, and supersedes all state legislation thereon.
It is not unreasonable, and in fact is the method approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission, in graduating freight according to value, to divide the particular subject of transportation into two classes -- those above and those below a fixed amount, and the establishment of two cattle rates, one based on a maximum fixed value and the other on the actual value, is not a violation of the Carmack Amendment of the Hepburn Act.
The Carmack Amendment has withdrawn the determination of validity of all stipulations in interstate shipping contracts from state law and legislation. Under that amendment, the validity of a provision that suit must be brought within a specified period is a federal question, to be settled by the general common law.
The liability imposed by the Carmack Amendment is that of the common law, and it may be limited or qualified by a special contract with the shipper limiting it in a just and reasonable manner except exemption from loss or responsibility due to negligence, and so held as to a stipulation that suit be brought within ninety days from the happening of the loss.
Limitation of the time within which to bring actions is a usual and reasonable provision, and there is nothing in the policy of the Carmack Amendment that is violated thereby.
The facts, which involve the validity under the Carmack Amendment of a contract for interstate shipment of
livestock and a provision therein fixing the valuation of the shipment in case of loss in consideration of a lower rate, are stated in the opinion.