Georgia, F. & A. Ry. Co. v. Blish Milling Co. - 241 U.S. 190 (1916)
U.S. Supreme Court
Georgia, F. & A. Ry. Co. v. Blish Milling Co., 241 U.S. 190 (1916)
Georgia, Florida & Alabama Railway Company
v. Blish Milling Company
Argued March 15, 1916
Decided May 8, 1916
241 U.S. 190
The bill of lading of an interstate shipment issued by the initial carrier contained a stipulation that claims for failure to make delivery must be made in writing to the carrier at point of delivery within a specified period otherwise carrier not liable; there was a delivery, but it was made contrary to instructions, and the shipper telegraphed the terminal carrier that it made claim for entire value at invoice price. Held that:
Under the Carmack Amendment, the connecting carrier was not relieved from liability, but the bill of lading required to be issued by the initial carrier upon an interstate shipment governs the entire transportation and fixes the obligations of all participating carriers to the extent that its terms are applicable and valid.
The question of proper construction of the bill of lading of an interstate shipment is a federal question.
Multitudinous transactions of a carrier justify the requirement of written notice of misdeliveries of merchandise and claims against it even with respect to its own operations.
The Carmack Amendment casts upon the initial carrier responsibility with respect to the entire transportation, and in case of misdelivery by the terminal carrier, the initial carrier is liable.
A provision in an interstate bill of lading is to be construed
the same as to the connecting or terminal carrier as it is to be construed as to the initial carrier, as the obligations of the latter are measured by the terms of the bill of lading.
Where the bill of lading of an interstate shipment requires notice of claim for misdelivery, such notice must be given before action can be brought against the terminal carrier making the misdelivery complained of.
The effect of such stipulation cannot be escaped by form of action, and if a suit cannot be maintained for damages against the delivering carrier without the required notice, it cannot be maintained for conversion.
Parties to the contract of an interstate shipment by rail made pursuant to the Act to Regulate Commerce cannot waive its terms; nor can the carrier by its conduct give the shipper the right to ignore such terms and hold the carrier to a different responsibility than that fixed by the agreement made under the published tariffs and regulations.
Where a provision in a bill of lading for an interstate shipment is applicable and valid, effect must be given thereto.
The stipulation in this case was satisfied by the telegram from the shipper to the terminal carrier, it appearing that there was no such variance from a claim for value of the shipment as to be misleading, and no prejudice resulted; such a stipulation being addressed to a practical exigency, must be construed in a practical way, and does not require a particular form of notice.
15 Ga.App. 142 affirmed.
The facts, which involve the rights and duties of carriers and shippers under the Carmack Amendment, are stated in the opinion.