Where the only questions are whether the carrier's rule was
applicable to the case and was properly applied, this Court is not
concerned with the reasonableness of the rule.
Whether a rule of the carrier in regard to forfeiture of mileage
books is reasonable is a question for the Interstate Commerce
Where the carrier's own rule provides that the mileage book can
be forfeited if presented for passage by anyone other than the
original purchaser the carrier cannot forfeit the book because the
original purchaser presents it for transportation of someone other
The state court does not deny a federal right to a railroad
company by simply holding it strictly to its own terms in
connection with mileage books.
94 S.C. 95 affirmed.
The facts, which involve the right of a railroad company to
forfeit a mileage book, and the construction of the rules under
which such a book was issued in this case, are stated in the
Page 239 U. S. 101
MR. JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.
This suit was brought by Samuel J. Campbell against the Southern
Railway Company to recover damages for the wrongful forfeiture of
the plaintiff's mileage book. The company sought to justify the
forfeiture under its tariff regulations, which had been duly filed
with the Interstate Commerce Commission. The defense was overruled
by the statute court. 94 S.C. 95.
The admitted facts are these: on November 20, 1910, Mr.
Campbell, being the owner of a thousand-mile coupon book, or
mileage book, purchased another mileage book of the same sort from
the agent of the Southern Railway Company at Greensboro, North
Carolina, and thereupon presented both books to the agent of the
company and obtained, in exchange for coupons, two "mileage
exchange tickets" to Greenville, South Carolina. With these
tickets, he and his wife traveled to Greenville, the tickets being
accepted by one of the company's collectors. A few days later, he
presented his mileage books to the agent of the company at
Greenville and obtained, for the proper number of coupons, two
exchange tickets to Greensboro. When he presented these tickets for
the transportation of himself and his wife, the ticket collector
asked if he had mileage books, and required him to produce them.
Upon looking at the books, the ticket collector returned one of
them to Mr. Campbell, but forfeited the other, which contained
unused coupons for 600 miles. The exchange ticket, which had been
issued for the coupons taken from the book, was also forfeited, and
the ticket collector demanded and received payment in cash of the
fare for the plaintiff's wife.
The tariff regulations and conditions which related to mileage
books, or mileage tickets, and were filed with the Interstate
Commerce Commission, were as follows:
"Exchange Requirement. -- Mileage coupons (except as
Page 239 U. S. 102
noted below) will not be honored for passage on trains or
steamers or in checking baggage (except from nonagency stations and
agency stations not open for the sale of tickets), but must be
presented at ticket office and there exchanged for continuous
passage ticket, which continuous passage ticket will be honored in
checking baggage and for passage when presented in connection with
the mileage ticket."
"Non-transferable. -- If a mileage ticket or ticket issued in
exchange for coupons therefrom be presented to an agent or
conductor by any other than the original purchaser, it will not be
honored, but will be forfeited, and any agent or conductor of any
line over which it reads shall have the right to take up and cancel
such ticket or tickets."
A jury was waived, and the case was submitted to the trial judge
upon a stipulation that, if judgment went for the plaintiff he
should recover the value of the mileage book ($12) and $25 damages.
Judgment was entered accordingly.
We are not concerned with the reasonableness of the rule; that,
if challenged, would be a question for the Interstate Commerce
Commission. The question now is as to the application of the rule.
Nor need we consider the right of the ticket collector to demand
payment for the transportation of the plaintiff's wife. The case,
as the state court said, turns upon the right to forfeit the
mileage book with its unused coupons.
The condition expressed in the rule is that the mileage book, or
mileage ticket, as it is termed, shall be presented by the original
purchaser. The plaintiff was the original purchaser, and presented
it. The company seeks to construe the rule as if it read that the
mileage book should be forfeited if presented by the original
purchaser for the transportation of a person other than himself.
The rule does not so read. It was not made a ground of
Page 239 U. S. 103
that the original purchaser asked for more than he was entitled
to get. For example, when the plaintiff presented his books at the
station to procure tickets for himself and wife in exchange for
coupons, it could not be said that he forfeited either of the
books, or both, because he asked too much. He was in no different
position when he produced the books before the conductor, with the
tickets which the company's agent had given him in exchange for
coupons. He was still the original purchaser, and the provision for
forfeiture when the mileage book is presented by someone else does
not hit the case.
We cannot say that the state court denied a federal right when
it held that railway company strictly to its own terms.