Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Olivit Bros. - 243 U.S. 574 (1917)
U.S. Supreme Court
Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Olivit Bros., 243 U.S. 574 (1917)
Pennsylvania Railroad Company v. Olivit Brothers
Argued April 9, 10, 1917
Decided April 30, 1917
243 U.S. 574
In an action against an interstate carrier for damage to goods shipped on a through bill of lading, the questions (1) whether, under the Carmack Amendment, the lawful holder of the bill of lading may sue without proving ownership of the goods, (2) whether, in view of stipulations in the bill of lading limiting liability, there was evidence of negligence upon the part of the carrier sufficient to go to the jury, and (3) whether a recovery of freight paid the carrier by the shipper
was allowable are questions which this Court may review in a case coming from a state court.
Under the Carmack Amendment, the lawful holder of the bill of lading may sue the carrier for loss or damage to the goods without proving ownership of the goods; § 8 of the Interstate Commerce Act, 24 Stat. 382, in providing generally for liability of the carrier to "the person or persons injured," is not in conflict with this specific meaning of the amendment.
In an action against a carrier for damage to goods caused by delay in forwarding and delivery, where the carrier proves a strike and resulting congestion of traffic which, under the bill of lading, exempts it from liability if due care was observed to meet the situation, a refusal of the court to charge that the burden is on plaintiff to prove that such care was not exercised is, at most, harmless error when followed by instructions properly explaining that the carrier is not responsible for delay resulting from the strike, nor liable if not negligent in forwarding and delivering the goods, that such negligence is not presumed, and that the burden of proving it is on the plaintiff.
Where a carrier defended upon the ground that delay in forwarding and delivering goods was due to proven conditions of traffic beyond its control due to a strike, evidence that the goods were received for shipment after the strike was over and that the delay was caused by preferring other goods in delivery held sufficient evidence of negligence to go to the jury.
When carrier and shipper agree that the basis for measuring damages for loss or damage to goods shall be their value at place and time of shipment, the amount of freight paid upon delivery may be added to the depreciation of such value caused by the carrier's default.
Allowing the shipper to recover the freight paid is not objectionable as a rebate, preference, or discrimination where there is no attempt to evade the Interstate Commerce Act.
Where goods are brought to destination in a damaged condition and sold at less than their value at shipment, the carrier is liable to refund freight paid if the damage resulted from its negligence.
88 N.J.L. 376 affirmed.
The case is stated in the opinion.