« AnteriorContinuar »
Opinion of the Court.
written into the clauses of § 3 of $100 as to the mare and $50 as to the colt, were written by the agent inadvertently in the wrong place, intending to write them at the space left vacant for the shipper's valuation at the end of clause 5, and that for the same reason the rate charged was based on the tariff as applied to the primary valuation as stated in the third clause of the contract.
Putting out of view the conflicting tendencies of the proof and looking at the subject-matter from the point of view of the contract, that it was one intended to limit liability, or in other words, to fix a rate according to value at the shipper's election and to regulate recovery in case of loss correspondingly, would seem too clear for anything but statement. It is true the intimation is conveyed in the argument that the alternative rate depended exclusively upon the making of a valuation by the shipper and that where this was not done, there was no valuation and no limitation and a consequent limited rate and unlimited liability. But the suggestion disregards the stating of a value in the different clauses of $ 3 which are susceptible of no other explanation than that they were intended as a primary value to control as the basis for fixing the rates and as a rule of limitation if the shipper did not by making another and increased value become liable for a higher rate and possess the right to a greater recovery. To adopt the suggestion would require a disregarding of the plain terms of the contract and would leave no basis upon which to explain the rate fixed which clearly rested upon the tariff as applied to the articles and the statement as to value fixed in the third clause.
That it was in the power of the carrier under the Act to Regulate Commerce as amended to limit liability even in case of negligence by affording the shipper an opportunity to pay a higher rate and secure a higher recovery than the one initially fixed by the carrier, is so conclusively settled as to be beyond controversy. Adams Express
Company v. Croninger, 226 U. S. 491; Kansas City Southern Ry. Co. v. Carl, 227 U. S. 639; Missouri, Kansas & Texas Ry. Co. v. Harriman, 227 U. S. 657; Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Ry. Co. v. Cramer, 232 U. S. 490; Great Northern Ry. Co. v. O'Connor, 232 U. S. 508; Boston & Maine R. R. v. Hooker, 233 U. S. 97; Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. Robinson, 233 U. S. 173; Louisville & Nashville R. R. Co. v. Maxwell, 237 U. S. 94; Pierce Company v. Wells, Fargo & Company, 236 U. S. 278; Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Ry. Co. v. Rankin, 241 U. S. 319; New York Central & Hudson River R. R. Co. v. Beaham, 242 U. S. 148.
These rulings are decisive unless it be that for some reason they are inapplicable, and we briefly consider separately the grounds relied upon as demonstrating that result.
It is said the rate sheets filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission if they sustained the contract were not posted and therefore the contract must be treated as having nothing to rest upon. But the proposition is adversely disposed of by several of the cases above cited. Kansas City Southern Ry. Co. v. Carl, 227 U. S. 639, 652; Boston & Maine R. R. v. Hooker, 233 U. S. 97, 111; Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Ry. Co. v. Rankin, 241 U. S. 319, 327; New York Central & Hudson River R. R. Co. v. Beaham, 242 U. S. 148, 151.
But it is urged the contract of limitation was void because it is shown to have been illegal, that is, repugnant to the official tariff sheets filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission which, properly authenticated, were offered in evidence. But, turning to the official tariff sheets as found in the record, it is apparent that the terms of the contract are substantially identical with the statement in the tariff sheets as to the rates concerning the shipment of livestock and indeed, comparing the two, it is impossible to reach any other conclusion than that the
Opinion of the Court.
provisions of the contract were copied from the provisions of the tariff sheets. In substance the argument rests upon the assumption which we have already disposed of, that is, that the contract only provided for a limitation in the event of a declaration of value by the shipper and left no room for such a limitation where the shipper obtained the lowest possible rate by making no valuation and accepting the primary limit of value stated in the contract by the carrier. The argument as we are now considering it, however, proceeds not solely upon the text of the contract and the tariff sheets concerning the carriage of livestock but additionally upon the effect produced upon such provisions by clauses in the tariff sheets relating to the valuation of merchandise. The argument is this: That as in the rate schedules dealing with merchandise valuation it is expressly provided that the primary limitation of value fixed shall be the measure of the charge and liability unless another and higher valuation be declared, such rule ought not to be deduced from the provisions as to livestock valuation where that stipulation is not found in express terms, and hence that in the absence of an express valuation in a livestock contract by a shipper no primary limitation on value is possible and thus the rule of the lesser the rate the greater the responsibility would necessarily in the case of livestock come to pass. Incongruous as this result would be, it is said that it should be applied since in the rate sheet concerning merchandise it is declared in paragraph d that “These charges must not be applied to Live Animals, Live Birds or Live Stock (see paragraph g),” that is, the livestock paragraph. But to give to the clause the import claimed for it would be to cause it to accomplish the very result which it was obviously intended to prevent, that is, the control or modification of the charges contained in livestock clauses by the provisions as to merchandise charges. Indeed the complete answer to the proposition is the one which we
have previously pointed out in considering the argument in another form of statement, that to accede to it would require a plain disregard of the fixing of a primary valuation by the terms of the contract and the sanction of the right to do so found in the express words of the rate sheets.
Finally it is said that the right to limit ought not to be recognized in the presence of a controversy and conflicting tendencies of proof as to whether the limitation of liability was called to the attention of the shipper and, if one aspect be accepted, of the possibility that the contract was signed by the shipper in ignorance of the clause. But here again the contention but overlooks the very foundation upon which the principle settled by the adjudged cases rests and disregards the express ruling in some of them that the effect of a contract made and signed by a shipper which is lawful from the point of view of the established rate sheets may not be avoided by the suggestion that by neglect or inattention the contract which was entered into was never read. Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Ry. Co. v. Rankin, 241 U. S. 319; New York Central & Hudson River R. R. Co. v. Beaham, 242 U. S. 148, 151.
As from what we have said it follows that the shipper should not have been permitted, after obtaining the lowest possible rate based upon a valuation to which his right of recovery in case of loss was limited, to recover upon the happening of the loss an amount wholly disproportionate and inconsistent with the rate paid contrary to the express terms of the contract, it results that the judgment below must be and it is reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
And it is so ordered.
Opinion of the Court.
MINNEAPOLIS & ST. LOUIS RAILROAD COMPANY v. GOTSCHALL, ADMINISTRATRIX OF GOTSCHALL.
ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF
No. 251. Argued April 9, 1917.-Decided May 21, 1917.
Plaintiff's intestate, a brakeman, was thrown from a train carrying
interstate commerce, and killed, as a result of couplers coming open while the train was in motion. Held, that, in view of the Safety Appliance Act, negligence might be inferred from the mere opening
of the couplers. A father who by the state law is entitled to the earnings of his son during
minority may recover damages for the latter's death upon a cause of
action under the Federal Employers' Liability Act. 130 Minnesota, 33, affirmed.
The case is stated in the opinion.
Mr. William H. Bremner and Mr. Frederick M. Miner for plaintiff in error, submitted.
Mr. Lyle Pettijohn, with whom Mr. W. R. Duxbury was on the brief, for defendant in error.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.
Basing her cause of action upon the Federal Employers' Liability Act, the defendant in error as administratrix of the estate of Merlin E. Gotschall, deceased, sued to recover from the Railroad Company, plaintiff in error, damages resulting from his death alleged to have been occasioned by the negligence of the company while he was in its employ engaged in interstate commerce. On this writ of