Union Pacific R. Co. v. Burke
255 U.S. 317 (1921)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Union Pacific R. Co. v. Burke, 255 U.S. 317 (1921)

Union Pacific Railroad Company v. Burke

No. 183

Argued January 27, 1921

Decided February 28, 1921

255 U.S. 317

CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT

OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK

Syllabus

An agreement between an interstate railroad company and a shipper to limit the carrier's liability upon an interstate shipment to a valuation stated in the bill of lading will not relieve the carrier of its common law obligation to pay the actual value in case of loss by its negligence if its schedule, filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission, provide but one rate applicable to the shipment. P. 255 U. S. 321. Reid v. American Express Co.,241 U. S. 544, distinguished. 178 App.Div. 783; 226 N.Y. 534, affirmed.

This case was submitted in the first instance to the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, and

Page 255 U. S. 318

decided in favor of the defendant, the railroad company. The court of appeals of the state reversed the decision and directed the entry of the judgment for the plaintiff, which is here reviewed by certiorari and affirmed. The case is stated in the opinion.

MR. JUSTICE CLARKE delivered the opinion of the Court.

On March 10, 1915, S. Ontra & Bro. delivered to the Pacific Mail Steamship Company at Yokohama, Japan, 56 cases of "drawn work goods and renaissance," consigned to their own order at New York, and received a bill of lading for ocean transportation to San Francisco and thence by the Southern Pacific Company and its connections, by rail, to destination. The property was delivered to the Southern Pacific Company and, without new billing, was carried to a junction with the line of the petitioner, the Union Pacific Railroad Company, and while in its custody was totally destroyed in a collision. The respondent, successor in interest to the consignor, claimed in this suit the right to recover the fair invoice value of the goods, $17,449.01, and the petitioner conceded his right to recover, but only to the amount of the agreed valuation of $100 per package, $5,600, to which it contended he was limited by the bill of lading. All of the facts are stipulated or proved by undisputed evidence.

The Appellate Division -- First Department, New York Supreme Court -- rendered judgment in favor of respondent for $5,600, with interest and costs, but, on appeal to the Court of Appeals of that state, the judgment of the Appellate Division was reversed, and an order was entered that

Page 255 U. S. 319

a judgment should be rendered by the Supreme Court in favor of respondent for $17,449.01, with interest and costs. The case is brought here on certiorari.

On the face of the bill of lading received at Yokohama was the notation: "Weight 26,404 lbs.; ocean weight rate, 50

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