Reid v. Fargo,
241 U.S. 544 (1916)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Reid v. Fargo, 241 U.S. 544 (1916)

Reid v. Fargo

No. 279

Argued March 13, 1916

Decided June 12, 1916

241 U.S. 544


In the Second Circuit, the practice is well established that an appeal from the decree of the district court to the circuit court of appeals in an admiralty case by one of the parties opens the case for a trial de novo. Irvine v. The Hesper, 122 U. S. 256.

The owner of an automobile delivered it to an express company in London to forward to New York, declaring its value to be far in excess of $100; the express company boxed it and delivered it to a carrier and accepted a bill of lading with a limitation of $100 liability; on arrival at destination, a stevedore discharged the cargo and the rope by which the automobile was being hoisted broke and the automobile was seriously damaged; in a suit in personam in admiralty against the express company and to which the carrier and the stevedore had been made parties, held that:

The breaking of the rope in this case illustrates, as by analogy, the rule of res ipsa loquitur, and throws the responsibility on the stevedore furnishing the rope and handling the article unless such breaking can be explained as resulting from a hidden defect, which in this case is without support in the evidence.

The breaking of the rope appearing from the evidence to have probably resulted from straining and cutting, the stevedore was responsible for the damage, and the decree should be against him primarily.

In case of failure to collect from the stevedore, the carrier is responsible to the extent of the limited amount stated in the bill of lading, and in case there is still a deficiency, the express company, even though only a forwarder, is liable by reason of having, without the authority of the shipper and with knowledge of the value of the article entrusted to it, accepted from the carrier a bill of lading limiting its liability.

The facts, which involve the jurisdiction and power of the circuit court of appeals on appeal from the district

Page 241 U. S. 545

court in admiralty and the liability of forwarders, carriers and stevedores in connection with the shipment and delivery of an automobile, are stated in the opinion.

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