Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pac. Ry. Co. v. Rankin - 241 U.S. 319 (1916)
U.S. Supreme Court
Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pac. Ry. Co. v. Rankin, 241 U.S. 319 (1916)
Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific
Railway Company v. Rankin
Argued November 5, 1915
Decided May 22, 1916
241 U.S. 319
Where the state court has treated the instrument involved as properly in evidence and has undertaken to determine its validity and effect, this Court need not consider mooted questions of pleading as to whether such instrument was properly before the court.
Rights and liabilities of parties to an interstate shipment by rail depend upon Acts of Congress, the bill of lading, and common law principles as accepted and applied in federal tribunals.
The interpretation and effect of a bill of lading of an interstate shipment may present a federal question even though there is not affirmative proof that the carrier has filed tariff schedules in compliance with the Act to Regulate Commerce.
It will not be presumed, in absence of affirmative proof to the contrary, that an interstate carrier is conducting its affairs in violation of law. The presumption that all things required by law are rightly done applies unless the circumstances of the case overturn it.
Where a carrier by rail offers rates for interstate shipments fairly based upon valuation, it may limit its liability by special contract.
Recitals in a bill of lading, signed by both carrier and shipper, that lawful alternate rates based on valuations were offered constitute admissions by the shipper and prima facie evidence of choice, and cast on the shipper the burden of proof to contradict his own admissions.
The facts, which involve the construction of the Act to Regulate Commerce and the Carmack Amendment thereto, as applied to a shipment of cattle under a bill of lading containing stipulations for limited liability, are stated in the opinion.