New York, N.H. & H. R. Co. v. Nothnagle,
346 U.S. 128 (1953)

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U.S. Supreme Court

New York, N.H. & H. R. Co. v. Nothnagle, 346 U.S. 128 (1953)

New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Co. v. Nothnagle

No. 525

Argued April 29, 1953

Decided June 8, 1953

346 U.S. 128


A passenger bought from a railroad a ticket for a journey from Meriden, Conn., to Fall River, Mass., via New Haven, Conn. On arriving at New Haven, she alighted to transfer to another train leaving about an hour later. At the station, her suitcase was solicited by a redcap employee of the railroad, to whom she handed it with instructions to return it at the Fall River train. No baggage check was given, and no money paid. The suitcase was lost, and the passenger sued in a state court. The railroad company claimed that its liability was limited to $25 by a tariff filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission. The state court rendered judgment for $615, the actual value of the lost baggage.

Held: judgment affirmed. Pp. 346 U. S. 129-136.

(a) The transaction was incident to an interstate journey, and the Interstate Commerce Act controls to whatever extent its provisions apply. Pp. 346 U. S. 130-131.

(b) The suitcase in question was not "baggage carried on passenger trains" within the meaning of the first exception added in 1916 to the Carmack Amendment, 39 Stat. 442, 49 U.S.C. § 20(11). Pp. 346 U. S. 131-135.

(c) Nor did the tariff filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission control, since there was no "value declared in writing by the shipper or agreed upon in writing" within the meaning of the second exception to the Carmack Amendment. P. 346 U. S. 135.

(d) Only by granting its customers a fair opportunity to choose between higher and lower liability by paying a correspondingly greater or lesser charge can a carrier lawfully limit recovery to an amount less than the actual loss sustained. Pp. 346 U. S. 135-136.

139 Conn. 278, 93 A. 2d 165, affirmed.

A Connecticut state court awarded respondent a judgment against a railroad for the loss of a suitcase entrusted to a redcap. The State Supreme Court affirmed. 139

Page 346 U. S. 129

Conn. 278, 93 A. 2d 165. This Court granted certiorari. 345 U.S. 903. Affirmed, p. 346 U. S. 136.

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