Boston & Maine R. Co. v. HookerAnnotate this Case
233 U.S. 97 (1914)
U.S. Supreme Court
Boston & Maine R. Co. v. Hooker, 233 U.S. 97 (1914)
Boston & Maine Railroad Company v. Hooker
Argued December 10, 11, 1913
Decided April 6, 1914
233 U.S. 97
ERROR TO THE SUPERIOR COURT
OF THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS
Congress, by the Hepburn Act and the Carmack Amendment in 1906, has regulated the subject of interstate transportation of property by federal law to the exclusion of the states to control it by their own policy or legislation. Pennsylvania v. Hughes,191 U. S. 477, distinguished, having been decided prior to the passage of the Hepburn Act.
Knowledge of the shipper that the rate is based on value is to be presumed from the terms of the bill of lading and of the published schedules filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission, and the effect of so filing the schedules makes the published rates binding upon shipper and carrier alike.
The limitation of liability of carriers for passengers' baggage is covered by the Interstate Commerce Act and the Carmack Amendment to the Hepburn Act applies thereto as well as to liability for shipments of freight.
Under § 6 of the Interstate Commerce Act, carriers must include in the schedules of rates filed regulations affecting passengers' baggage and the limitations of liability.
A provision in a tariff schedule that the passenger must declare the value of his baggage and pay stated excess charges for excess liability over the stated value to be carried free is a regulation within the meaning of §§ 6 and 22 of the Interstate Commerce Act, and as such is sufficient to give the shipper notice of the limitation.
In construing a statute, the practical interpretation given to it by the administrative body charged with its enforcement is entitled to weight:
The effect of permitting the carrier to file regulations as to passengers' baggage which limit its liability except on payment of specified rates is not to change the common law rule that the carrier is an insurer against its own negligence, but simply that the carrier shall obtain commensurate compensation for the responsibility assumed.
Where charges for full liability as specified in the published tariff are unreasonable, they can only be attacked before the Interstate Commerce Commission.
Congress is familiar with the customs of travelers, including that of checking baggage, and so held that a baggage check is sufficient compliance as to passengers' baggage with the provision in the Carmack Amendment for issuing a receipt or bill of lading for the shipment.
If the subject needs regulation, it is within the power of the Interstate Commerce Commission, under §§ 1 and 15 of the Act of June 18, 1910, to make requirements as to checks or receipts to be given for baggage by common carriers.
209 Mass. 598 reversed.
The facts, which involve the construction of the Carmack
Amendment to the Hepburn Act and the right of a common carrier which has filed schedules containing regulations as to passengers' baggage to limit its liability for loss of such baggage caused by its own negligence to the extent and in the manner specified in the schedules, are stated in the opinion.
MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the Court.
Katharine Hooker brought an action in the Superior Court of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, to recover from the Boston & Maine Railroad as a common carrier on account of the loss of certain baggage belonging to her, which had been transported by the defendant in interstate commerce from Boston, Massachusetts, to Sunapee Lake Station, New Hampshire, on September 15, 1908. The plaintiff recovered a judgment for the value of the baggage lost, with interest. The case was taken to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upon exceptions of the defendant, and upon its rescript, returned to the
superior court, overruling the exceptions (209 Mass. 598), judgment was there entered for the plaintiff for $2,253.77.
The defendant insists that the recovery of the plaintiff should have been limited to the sum of $100 in view of certain requirements made by it concerning the transportation of baggage and filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission. From the findings of fact, it appears that the baggage was checked upon a first-class ticket purchased for the plaintiff (although not used by her, she traveling upon another similar ticket purchased by herself); that, at the time the baggage was checked, the plaintiff had no notice of the regulations hereinafter referred to, limiting the liability of the defendant (further than such notice is to be presumed from the schedules filed and posted as hereinafter stated); that no inquiry was made by the defendant on receiving the plaintiff's baggage as to its value; that there was no evidence that any more expensive or different mode of transportation was adopted for baggage the value of which was declared to exceed $100 than for other baggage; that any reasonable person would infer from the outward appearance of the plaintiff's baggage when tendered to the defendant for transportation that the value largely exceeded $100, and that the loss of plaintiff's baggage was due to the negligence of defendant.
The court further found that, previous to and during September, 1908, the defendant had published and kept open for inspection and filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission, in accordance with the act of Congress relating to interstate commerce and amendments thereto and the orders and regulations of the Commission, schedules giving the rates, fares, and charges for transportation between different points, including Boston and Sunapee Lake Station, all terminal, storage, and other charges required by the Commission, all privileges and facilities granted or allowed, and all rules or regulations
which in any way affected or determined such rates, fares, and charges or the value of the service rendered to passengers; that, during the same time, in accordance with an order of the Commission of June 2, 1908, making comprehensive regulations as to rate and fare schedules, the defendant had placed with its agent in Boston all rate and fare schedules and the terminal and other charges applicable to that station, and had enabled and required him to keep in accessible form a file of such schedules, and had instructed him to give information contained therein to all seeking it, and to afford to inquirers opportunity to examine the schedules, and that the defendant in the manner shown and in all other ways conformed to the acts of Congress and the orders and regulations of the commission with reference to such schedules. The court also found that the schedules contained provisions limiting the free transportation of baggage to a certain weight, and the liability of the defendant to $100, followed by a table of charges for excess weight, and also contained the following provision:
"For excess value, the rate will be one half of the current excess baggage rate per one hundred pounds for each one hundred dollars, or fraction thereof, of increased value declared. The minimum charge for excess value will be 15 cents."
"Baggage liability is limited to personal baggage not to exceed one hundred dollars in value for a passenger presenting a full ticket and fifty dollars in value for a half ticket, unless a greater value is declared and stipulated by the owner and excess charges thereon paid at time of checking the baggage [p. 600];"
that the excess charge for transporting baggage valued at $1,904.50, which was the value of the baggage lost, from Boston to Sunapee Lake Station during September, 1908, according to the schedules, was $4.75; that notices were posted at or near the offices where passenger's tickets were sold in the Boston
station, stating that tariffs naming the rates on interstate traffic were on file with the agent, and would be furnished for inspection upon application, and that notices were posted in the baggage room of that station, in a conspicuous place, and in sight of persons using the room for checking baggage, reading that personal baggage not exceeding $100 in value would be checked free for each passenger on presentation of a first-class ticket, and containing information with reference to excess weight. And the court further found that the plaintiff did not declare at the time her baggage was checked that it exceeded $100 in value, and did not pay any charges for valuation in excess of that amount.
It is to be borne in mind that the action as tried and decided in the state court was not for negligence of the railroad company as a warehouseman for the loss of the baggage after its delivery at Sunapee Lake Station, but was solely upon the contract of carriage in interstate commerce.
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, in deciding the case, held that the Interstate Commerce Act did not in any wise change the common law rule, applicable in Massachusetts, that regulations of this character, limiting the amount of recovery for baggage lost, must be brought home to the knowledge of the shipper and assented to, or circumstances shown from which assent might be implied. In reaching this conclusion, that learned court relied upon the case of Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Hughes,191 U. S. 477, in which case it was held that a state might apply its local law and policy to recovery for the loss of a horse shipped in interstate commerce from Albany, New York, to Cynwyd, in the State of Pennsylvania, and injured by the negligence of a carrier in the latter state, notwithstanding the bill of lading contained an express condition that the carrier assumed liability to the extent only of the agreed valuation in event of loss.
It was further held in the Hughes case that the Interstate Commerce Act, in the respect then under consideration, had not enacted an exclusive rule upon which recovery might be had governing responsibility for loss, and that, as the law then stood, the state might enforce its own regulations authorized by statute or judicial decision as to responsibility for such negligence.
Since the decision in the Hughes case, the Hepburn Act of June 29, 1906, 34 Stat. 584, c. 3591, has been passed, and this Court has held that, by virtue of that act (particularly § 7, the Carmack Amendment), the subject of interstate transportation of property has been regulated by federal law to the exclusion of the power of the states to control in such respect by their own policy or legislation. In this connection, we may refer to the cases of Adams Express Co. v. Croninger,226 U. S. 491; Wells, Fargo & Co. v. Neiman-Marcus Co.,227 U. S. 469; Kansas City Southern Ry. Co. v. Carl,227 U. S. 639; Missouri, Kansas & Texas Ry. Co. v. Harriman,227 U. S. 657.
The cases in 226 and 227 U.S., it is true, involved liability for express or freight shipments made upon express receipts, bills of lading, or separate contracts, showing on their face or by reference to tariffs the opportunity for valuation for the purpose of fixing the rate and liability, and the limitation appearing in such form of contract was declared to be valid and effectual to relieve the carrier from a greater liability than that therein expressed. But the Court did not stop there: in Adams Exp. Co. v. Croninger, supra, p. 226 U. S. 509, it said:
"The knowledge of the shipper that the rate was based upon the value is to be presumed from the terms of the bill of lading and of the published schedules filed with the Commission."
In Kansas City Southern Ry. Co. v. Carl, supra, p. 227 U. S. 652, this Court said:
"The valuation the shipper declares determines the legal rate where there are two rates based upon valuation. He must take notice of the rate applicable,
and actual want of knowledge is no excuse. The rate, when made out and filed, is notice, and its effect is not lost, although it is not actually posted in the station. Texas & Pacific Railway v. Mugg,202 U. S. 242; Chicago & Alton Ry. v. Kirby,225 U. S. 155. It would open a wide door to fraud and destroy the uniform operation of the published tariff rate sheets. When there are two published rates, based upon difference in value, the legal rate automatically attaches itself to the declared or agreed value. Neither the intentional nor accidental misstatement of the applicable published rate will bind the carrier or shipper. The lawful rate is that which the carrier must exact and that which the shipper must pay. . . . To the extent that such limitations of liability are not forbidden by law, they become, when filed, a part of the rate."
And in Missouri, K. & T. R. Co. v. Harriman, supra, p. 227 U. S. 669, this Court said that the shipper was compelled to take notice of the rate sheets contained in tariff schedules
"not only because referred to in the contract signed by them, but because they had been lawfully filed and published. . . . [p. 227 U. S. 671] When the carrier graduates its rates by value and has filed its tariffs showing two rates applicable to a particular commodity or class of articles, based upon a difference in valuation, the shipper must take notice, for the valuation automatically determines which of the rates is the lawful rate."
In Chicago, R.I. & P. Ry. Co. v. Cramer,232 U. S. 490, this Court said:
"That rule of liability [the uniform rule established by the Hepburn Act] is to be enforced in the light of the fact that the provisions of the tariff enter into and form a part of the contract of shipment, and if a regularly filed tariff offers two rates, based on value, and the goods are forwarded at the low value in order to secure the low rate, then the carrier may avail itself of that valuation when sued for loss or damage to the property."
And in Great Northern Ry. Co. v. O'Connor, 232
U.S. 508, this Court said:
"But, so long as the tariff rate, based on value, remained operative, it was binding upon the shipper and carrier like, and was to be enforced by the courts in fixing the rights and liabilities of the parties. The tariffs are filed with the Commission, and are open to inspection at every station. In view of the multitude of transactions, it is not necessary that there shall be an inquiry as to each article, or a distinct agreement as to the value of each shipment. If no value is stated, the tariff rate applicable to such a state of facts applies. If, on the other hand, there are alternative rates based on value, and the shipper names a value to secure the lower rate, the carrier, in the absence of something to show rebating or false billing, is entitled to collect the rate which applies to goods of that class, and, if sued for their loss, it is liable only for the loss of what the shipper had declared them to be in class and value."
Before these cases were decided, this Court had held that the effect of filing schedules of rates with the Interstate Commerce Commission was to make the published rates binding upon shipper and carrier alike, thus making effectual the purpose of the act to have but one rate, open to all alike, and from which there could be no departure. Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. Hefley,158 U. S. 98; Texas & Pac. Ry. Co. v. Mugg,202 U. S. 242; Armour Packing Co. v. United States,209 U. S. 56, 209 U. S. 81; Louis. & Nash. R. Co. v. Mottley,219 U. S. 467, 219 U. S. 476. This principle, it will be perceived, was fully recognized in the series of cases decided since the passage of the Hepburn Act, beginning with the case of Adams Express Co. v. Croninger, supra. It is true that the Carmack Amendment requires a receipt or bill of lading to be issued concerning shipments of property in interstate commerce, and that, in the cases construing that amendment, a bill of lading was issued, and, according to the circumstances of the case, the bill of lading and its effect are discussed in each of these, but the
effect of filing the schedule is not lost sight of, and the doctrine of the previous cases as to the purpose of filing and the necessity of adherence to such schedule is uniformly recognized.
The court below, after conceding that the subject matter of passenger's baggage in interstate travel is within the control of Congress, and saying that there was no specific regulation respecting it, said:
"The precise position of the defendant is that, as the limitation of liability for baggage was filed and posted as a part of its schedules for passenger tariff, the limitation thereby became and was an essential part of its rate, from which, under the interstate commerce law, it could not deviate, and by which the plaintiff was bound, regardless of her knowledge of or assent to it. If the premise is sound, then the conclusion follows, for the public are held inexorably to the rate published, regardless of knowledge, assent, or even misrepresentation. Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway v. Hefley,158 U. S. 98; Texas & Pacific Railway v. Mugg,202 U. S. 242; Melody v. Great Northern Railway, 25 S.D. 606."
It follows, therefore, from the previous decisions in this Court that, if it be found that the limitation of liability for baggage is required to be filed in the carrier's tariffs, the plaintiff was bound by such limitation. Having the notice which follows from the filed and published regulations, as required by the statute and the order of the Interstate Commerce Commission, she might have declared the value of her luggage, paid the excess tariff rate, and thus secured the liability of the carrier to the full amount of the value of her baggage, or she might, for the purpose of transportation, have valued it at $100, and received free transportation and liability to that extent only, or, as she did, she might have made no valuation of her baggage, in which event the rate and the corresponding liability would have automatically attached. As to the finding
that the plaintiff's baggage was apparently worth more than $100, as above set forth, it appears that the contents of the two trunks and suit case were not disclosed or known to the carrier, and the finding in this respect, necessarily based on the appearance of the baggage, cannot be said to show a procurement of transportation in violation of the requirements of the filed schedules at a rate disproportionate to its known value.
Let us now turn to the Interstate Commerce Act and see whether the matter of the limitation of baggage liability is covered by that act. Section 6 provides:
"That every common carrier subject to the provisions of this Act shall file with the Commission created by this Act, and print and keep open to public inspection, schedules showing all the rates, fares, and charges for transportation between different points on its own route and between points on its own route and points on the route of any other carrier by railroad, by pipeline, or by water when a through route and joint rate have been established. If no joint rate over the through route has been established, the several carriers in such through route shall file, print, and keep open to public inspection, as aforesaid, the separately established rates, fares, and charges applied to the through transportation. The schedules printed as aforesaid by and such common carrier shall plainly state the places between which property and passengers will be carried, and shall contain the classification of freight in force, and shall also state separately all terminal charges, storage charges, icing charges, and all other charges which the Commission may require, all privileges or facilities granted or allowed, and any rules or regulations which in anywise change, affect, or determine any part or the aggregate of such aforesaid rates, fares, and charges, or the value of the service rendered to the passenger, shipper, or
consignee. Such schedules shall be plainly printed in large type, and copies for the use of the public shall be kept posted in two public and conspicuous places in every depot, station, or office of such carrier where passengers or freight, respectively, are received for transportation, in such form that they shall be accessible to the public, and can be conveniently inspected. The provisions of this section shall apply to all traffic, transportation, and facilities defined in this Act."
"* * * *"
"No carrier, unless otherwise provided by this Act, shall engage or participate in the transportation of passengers or property, as defined in this Act, unless the rates, fares, and charges upon which the same are transported by said carrier have been filed and published in accordance with the provisions of this Act; nor shall any carrier charge or demand or collect or receive a greater or less or different compensation for such transportation of passengers or property, or for any service in connection therewith, between the points named in such tariffs, than the rates, fares, and charges which are specified in the tariff filed and in effect at the time; nor shall any carrier refund or remit in any manner or by any device any portion of the rates, fares, and charges so specified, nor extend to any shipper or person any privileges or facilities in the transportation of passengers or property, except such as are specified in such tariffs. . . ."
It is to be observed that the schedules are required to state, among other things, in naming certain charges,
"all other charges which the Commission may require, all privileges or facilities granted or allowed, and any rules or regulations which in any wise change, affect, or determine any part or the aggregate of such aforesaid rates, fares, and charges, or the value of the service rendered to the passenger, shipper, or consignee."
The question then is, did the limitation as to liability for baggage, based
upon the requirement to declare its value when more than $100 was to be recovered, come within that provision?
It seems to us that the ordinary signification of the terms used in the act would cover such requirements as are here made for the amount of recovery for baggage lost by the carrier. It is a regulation which fixes and determines the amount to be charged for the carriage in view of the responsibility assumed, and it also affects the value of the service rendered to the passenger. Such requirements are spoken of, in decisions dealing with them, as regulations; as, a common carrier
"may prescribe regulations to protect himself against imposition and fraud, and fix a rate of charges proportionate to the magnitude of the risks he may have to encounter."
"It is undoubtedly competent for carriers of passengers, by specific regulations, distinctly brought to the knowledge of the passenger, which are reasonable in their character, and not inconsistent with any statute or their duties to the public, to protect themselves against liability, as insurers, for baggage exceeding a fixed amount in value, except upon additional compensation, proportioned to the risk. And in order that such regulations may be practically effective and the carrier advised of the full extent of its responsibility, and, consequently, of the degree of precaution necessary upon its part, it may rightfully require, as a condition precedent to any contract for the transportation of baggage, information from the passenger as to its value, and if the value thus disclosed exceeds that which the passenger may reasonably demand to be transported as baggage without extra compensation, the carrier, at its option, can make such additional charges as the risk fairly justifies."
Railroad Co. v. Fraloff,100 U. S. 24.
Mr. Justice Brewer, sitting in the circuit court, in Ames v. Union Pac. Ry. Co., 64 F. 165, 178, thus defined the term "regulation:"
"Within the term 'regulation'
are embraced two ideas; one is the mere control of the operation of the roads, prescribing the rules for the management thereof, matters which affect the convenience of the public in their use. Regulation in this sense may be considered as purely public in its character, and in no manner trespassing upon the rights of the owners of railroads. But within the scope of the word 'regulation,' as commonly used, is embraced the idea of fixing the compensation which the owners of railroad property shall receive for the use thereof, and when regulation in this sense is attempted, it necessarily affects the property interests of the railroad owners, and it is 'regulation' in this sense of the term."
Turning to the act itself, we think the conclusion that this limitation is a regulation required to be filed by the act is strengthened by § 22 *, which provides:
"But before any common carrier, subject to the provisions of this act, shall issue any such joint interchangeable mileage tickets with special privileges, as aforesaid, it shall file with the Interstate Commerce Commission copies of the joint tariffs of rates, fares, or charges on which such joint interchangeable mileage tickets are to be based, together with specifications of the amount of free baggage permitted to be carried under such tickets, in the same manner as common carriers are required to do with regard to other joint rates by section six of this act."
This section would indicate that Congress thought that § 6 of the act had to do with specifications of the amount of baggage which would be carried free, and that such regulations should be filed under the requirement of § 6 to which it referred.
This conclusion is further strengthened by the action of the Interstate Commerce Commission, in requiring by its Tariff Circular No. 15-A, entitled, "Regulations Governing the Construction and Filing of Freight Tariffs and Classification
and Passenger Fare Schedules," effective April 15, 1908, and in force at the time of the loss here in question, that:
"34. Tariffs shall contain, in the order named:"
"* * * *"
"(g) Rules and regulations which govern the tariff, the title of each rule or regulation to be shown in bold type. Under this head all of the rules, regulations, or conditions which in any way affect the fares named in the tariff shall be entered. . . . These rules shall include . . . the general baggage regulations, and also schedule of excess baggage rates, unless such excess baggage rates are shown in tariff in connection with the fares."
This requirement is a practical interpretation of the law by the administrative body having its enforcement in charge, and is entitled to weight in construing the act.
The Act of June 18, 1910 (36 Stat. 539, 546, c. 309), defining, in § 1, the duties of carriers to make just and reasonable regulations affecting, among other things, the carrying of personal, sample, and excess baggage, may be noted in passing. This statute was before the Commission in a case involving such regulations. Regulations Restricting the Dimensions of Baggage, 26 I.C.C. 292. Concerning it the Commission, by Clark, Chairman, said (p. 293):
"Prior to June 18, 1910, the Act to Regulate Commerce contained no specific provision relating to the interstate transportation of baggage except in connection with the issuance of joint interchangeable mileage tickets. The Commission had, however, under authority of § 6, required carriers to publish and file their general baggage regulations and their schedules of excess baggage rates. Section 1 was amended on the date named, the amendment, insofar as it is material, reading as follows:"
" It is hereby made the duty of all common carriers subject to the provisions of this act to establish, observe,
and enforce . . . just and reasonable regulations and practices affecting classifications, . . . the manner and method of presenting, marking, packing, and delivering property for transportation, the facilities for transportation, . . . the carrying of personal, sample, and excess baggage."
And it is to be observed that the Commission considers its requirement with reference to including baggage regulations in the tariff schedules, quoted above, as adequate, for the same provisions appear in its current circular.
We are therefore of the opinion that the requirement published concerning the amount of the liability of the defendant, based upon additional payment where baggage was declared to exceed $100 in value was determinative of the rate to be charged, and did affect the service to be rendered to the passenger, as it fixed the price to be paid for the service rendered in the particular case, and was therefore a regulation within the meaning of the statute.
By permitting the baggage regulations, including the excess valuation rate, to be filed and become part of the tariff schedules, the rule of the common law that the carrier becomes an insurer of the safety of baggage against accidents not the act of God or the public enemy or the fault of the passenger (the rule established in this country, 3 Hutchinson on Carriers § 1241) was not changed. The effect of such filing is to permit the carrier by such regulations to obtain commensurate compensation for the responsibility assumed for the safety of the passenger's baggage, and to require the passenger, whose knowledge of the character and value of his baggage is peculiarly his own, to declare its value and pay for the excess amount. There is no question of the reasonableness or propriety of making such regulations, which would be binding upon the passenger if brought to his knowledge in such wise as
to make an agreement or what is tantamount thereto. This much is conceded by the learned counsel for the plaintiff in error. The liability of a carrier under the Interstate Commerce Act was said, in the Croninger case (226 U.S. p. 226 U. S. 511), to be (aside from the responsibility for the default of a connecting carrier)
"not beyond the liability imposed by the common law, as that body of law applicable to carriers has been interpreted by this Court as well as many courts of the states."
And in that case (p. 226 U. S. 509) it was laid down as the established rule of common law
"as declared by this Court in many cases that such a carrier may by a fair, open, just, and reasonable agreement limit the amount recoverable by a shipper in case of loss or damage to an agreed value made for the purpose of obtaining the lower of two or more rates of charges proportioned to the amount of the risk."
And see the previous cases in this Court there cited. But the effect of the regulations, filed as required, giving notice of rates based upon value when the baggage to be transported was of a higher value than $100, and the delivery and acceptance of the baggage without declaration of value or notice to the carrier of such higher value, charges the carrier with liability to the extent of $100 only.
The language of the regulation filed reads: "Baggage liability is limited to personal baggage not to exceed $100 in value, etc., unless a greater value is declared, etc." We have said that this limitation does not relieve from the insurer's liability when the loss occurs otherwise than by negligence, and we think applies equally when negligence of the carrier is the cause of loss, as is found in this case. The effect of the filing gives the regulation as to baggage the force of a contract determining "Baggage liability." In Hart v. Pennsylvania R. Co.,112 U. S. 331, followed in the later cases in this Court, it was held that a recovery may not be had above the amount stipulated though the loss results from the carrier's negligence. "The carrier
must respond for negligence up to that value." The discussion and conclusion reached in the Croninger and Carl cases, supra, leave nothing to be said on this point. This rule is recognized in New York (Tewes v. North German Lloyd S.S. Co., 186 N.Y. 151; Gardiner v. New York Central & H. R. Co., 201 N.Y. 387).
If the charges filed were unreasonable, the only attack that could be made upon such regulation would be by proceedings contesting their reasonableness before the Interstate Commerce Commission. While they were in force, they were equally binding upon the railroad company and all passengers whose baggage was transported by carriers in interstate commerce. This being the fact, we think the limitation of liability to $100 fixed the amount which the plaintiff could recover in this case, and there was error in affirming the recovery for the full value of the baggage in the absence of a declaration of such value and payment of the additional amount required to secure liability in the greater sum.
We do not think the requirement of the Carmack Amendment that a railway company receiving property for transportation in interstate commerce shall issue a receipt or bill of lading therefor required other receipts than baggage checks, which it is shown were issued when the baggage was received in this case. When the amendment was passed, Congress well knew that baggage was not carried upon bills of lading, and that carriers had been accustomed to issue checks upon receipt of baggage. We do not think it was intended to require a departure from this practice when the matter was placed under regulation by schedules filed and subject to change for unreasonableness upon application to the Commission. Such checks are receipts, and there is no special requirement in the statute as to their form. It is doubtless in the power of the Interstate Commerce Commission to make requirements as to the checks or receipts to be given for baggage if that
subject needs regulation. Act of June 18, 1910, §§ 1 and 15, 36 Stat. 539, c. 309.
Reversed and remanded to the Superior Court of Massachusetts for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
* As amended by the Act of Feb. 8, 1895, c. 61, 28 Stat. 643.
MR. JUSTICE PITNEY, dissenting:
I have been unable to find a previous instance where any court, in this country at least, in an action by shipper or passenger against common carrier for loss of freight or baggage occasioned by the negligence of the carrier or its employees, has held the recovery to be limited to an arbitrary sum unrelated to the value of the goods lost, and this without any previous valuation or agreement assented to by the shipper or passenger, without any representation of value made by him, and without even notice brought home to him of any rule or regulation upon which the limitation of liability is based. The effect given by the present decision to a "regulation" prescribed by the carrier that, while formally promulgated, was in fact unknown to the passenger, seems to me an entire departure from the principles governing the duties and responsibilities of common carriers as heretofore recognized by this Court and by the courts of the states generally, as laid down in the textbooks and cyclopedias of law, and as reiterated and applied by this Court in a recent series of notable decisions.
We are referred to the "Act to Regulate Commerce" of February 4, 1887, February 4, 1887, 24 Stat. 379, c. 104, as amended in 1906 by the Hepburn Act, 34 Stat. 584, c. 3591, with citation of the provision in § 6 of the act respecting the filing and publication of schedules showing the rates, fares, and charges for transportation, etc., and with particular emphasis upon the so-called Carmack Amendment. I do not find in either of these any phrase or expression that manifests a legislative intent to lessen or limit in any way
the carrier's liability as quasi-insurer, much less its responsibility for losses due to its own negligence or that of its employees. Neither enactment in terms imposes any duty or burden upon the shipper or passenger affecting the question at issue, and the Carmack Amendment at least, contains a clear expression of the legislative purpose to enforce the carrier's responsibility for losses of property caused by it, without regard to any rule or regulation exempting it.
The result reached in the present case -- which seems so contrary to all previous adjudications and to the apparent meaning of the acts of Congress -- is based (if I understand the opinion) not upon any legislation directly addressed to the particular subject, but upon inferences deduced by indirect reasoning from the assumed policy of the law. The reasoning, as I am constrained to believe, disregards familiar principles established by repeated decisions of this Court, in the light of which Congress undoubtedly legislated, and it has the effect of placing honest but unskilled shippers and passengers at a serious disadvantage in dealing with common carriers, enabling the latter, by "regulations" never called to the attention of the former, to obtain practical immunity from responsibility for losses due to their own negligence.
The consequences are so serious that I have been unable to convince myself that I should acquiesce in silence.
The salient facts are mentioned in the opinion, but some are not noticed, and it is proper to state that plaintiff traveled, in September, 1908, as an interstate passenger upon defendant's train from Boston, Massachusetts, to Sunapee Lake, New Hampshire, having in fact paid two first-class fares, one ticket being used for the checking of her baggage, the other for her personal transportation. Defendant's schedules, filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission and published in the mode prescribed by the act of Congress, showed the rates of fares between
these places, and contained a provision stating that
"One hundred and fifty pounds of personal baggage, not exceeding one hundred dollars in value, will be checked free for each passenger on presentation of a full ticket. . . . For excess weight, charge will be made as follows [here was inserted a table of charges for excess weights, and at the foot of it the following]: For excess value, the rate will be one half of the current excess baggage rate per one hundred pounds for each one hundred dollars, or fraction thereof, of increased value declared. The minimum charge for excess value will be 15 cents. Baggage liability is limited to personal baggage not to exceed one hundred dollars in value for a passenger presenting a full ticket . . . unless a greater value is declared and stipulated by the owner and excess charges thereon paid at time of checking the baggage."
Plaintiff's baggage consisted of three pieces, of the value of $1,904.50, and the charge on this valuation for transportation from Boston to Sunapee Lake, according to the schedules, would have been 25
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