Western Union Tel. Co. v. Poston - 256 U.S. 662 (1921)


U.S. Supreme Court

Western Union Tel. Co. v. Poston, 256 U.S. 662 (1921)

Western Union Telegraph Company v. Poston

No. 293

Argued October 20, 1920

Decided June 6, 1921

256 U.S. 662

Syllabus

1. A telegraph company is not subject to a common law liability for negligent delay in the delivery of a message while its system was in the exclusive possession and control of the government and being operated by the Postmaster General pursuant to the Joint Resolution of July 16, 1918, c. 154, 40 Stat. 904, and the Proclamation of July 22, 1918, 40 Stat. 1807. P. 256 U. S. 664. Missouri Pacific R. Co. v. Ault, ante, 256 U. S. 554.

2. The provision of the proclamation for continuing operation of the telegraph systems through their officers and employees in the names of their respective companies, subject to the orders of the Postmaster General, did not make the companies the operating agents of the United States, and so render them liable for such negligence, nor did the Postmaster General's Order of like effect, dated August 1, 1918. P. 256 U. S. 665.

3. The contract of October 9, 1918, between the Postmaster General and the petitioner did not make the company liable for negligence under government operation, but merely provided indemnity. P. 256 U. S. 666.

4. Omission of Congress to provide a remedy against the government in such cases would afford no ground for holding the telegraph company liable. P. 256 U. S. 667.

107 S.E. 516 reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 256 U. S. 663



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