Wells Fargo & Co. Express v. Ford - 238 U.S. 503 (1915)
U.S. Supreme Court
Wells Fargo & Co. Express v. Ford, 238 U.S. 503 (1915)
Wells Fargo & Company Express v. Ford
Submitted May 5, 1915
Decided June 21, 1915
238 U.S. 503
The carrier cannot be held responsible for goods taken from its custody by valid legal process provided it gives the owner prompt notice of the suit so that he may have an opportunity to protect his interest.
As the carrier is not bound to make any defense, it is all the more bound to give the consignor notice so that he may appear and make his own defense.
Where the carrier gives notice of suit and the owner fails to appear or fails in his defense, and the seizure and sale of the property under judicial process amounts to vis major, the carrier cannot be held responsible for yielding thereto.
Where, as in this case, the carrier failed to give reasonable notice to the owner, it cannot plead the judgment obtained against it taking the owner's goods, and in such a case, if the judgment was rendered in another state, the refusal of the court to admit it on the common law ground that notice was not given to the owner does not amount to a denial of full faith and credit under the federal Constitution.
The facts, which involve the liability of carriers for goods taken from them by legal process and also the construction and application of the full faith and credit clause of the federal Constitution, are stated in the opinion.