Norfolk Southern R. Co. v. Chatman,
244 U.S. 276 (1917)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Norfolk Southern R. Co. v. Chatman, 244 U.S. 276 (1917)

Norfolk Southern Railroad Company v. Chatman


Argued April 20, 1917

Decided May 21, 1917

244 U.S. 276


Under the doctrine established by Railroad Company v. Lockwood, 17 Wall. 357, and many cases decided since, a person traveling by railroad as a caretaker of livestock on a "free" or "drover's" pass is a passenger for hire as to whom a stipulation that the carrier shall not be liable for personal injuries caused by its negligence is void.

As applied to caretakers of livestock, § 1 of the Hepburn Act of June 29, 1906, uses the term "free pass" in the sense which established custom had given it and judicial determination had sanctioned long before the act, viz., as meaning not a gratuitous pass, but one issued for a consideration constituting the caretaker a passenger for hire, within the doctrine of the Lockwood case. Charleston & Western Carolina Ry. Co. v. Thompson, 234 U. S. 576, distinguished.

Where a connecting carrier, sued for personal injuries by a person traveling on a drover's pass, based its defense on a release of liability for negligence contained in the contract of carriage issued by, and in accordance with the tariffs of, the initial carrier, under the Carmack Amendment, held that it was estopped from claiming also that, under its own tariff, the issuance of such passes was forbidden and unlawful, and that therefore such traveler was unlawfully upon its train.

A provision in a tariff that

"free or reduced transportation shall not be issued for shippers or caretakers in charge of livestock shipments, . . . and such shippers or caretakers shall pay full fare returning"

is construed as implying that such transportation will be allowed to the destination of the shipment, but not for the return trip of the caretaker.

When connecting interstate carriers, in accordance with tariffs of the initial carrier duly filed and published, contract to carry a shipment of livestock with a caretaker for a specified rate in money, the carriage quoad the caretaker is a carriage for money, part of the total rate, and the mere fact that the part attributable to the caretaker is

Page 244 U. S. 277

not stated separately in a passenger tariff does not render the contract to carry him invalid under the Act to Regulate Commerce.

Separation of the rate in such a case is an administrative matter affecting the form of tariffs, which is committed to the Interstate Commerce Commission by § 6 of the Commerce Act, as amended, and concerning which the courts will not interfere in advance of application to the Commission.

222 F. 802 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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