Adams Express Company v. E H Croninger
Ordered for reargument before full bench April 8, 1912.
Reargued October 23, 1912.
Decided January 6, 1913.
This was an action in the circuit court of Kenton county, Kentucky, against the express company, to recover the full market value of a small package containing a diamond ring which was delivered by the plaintiff below to the express company at its office in Cincinnati, Ohio, consigned to J. W. Clendenning at Augusta, Georgia. The package was never delivered.
The express company made defense by answer. The plaintiff demurred to the answer as not containing a defense, which demurrer was sustained. The company declined to further plead, whereupon the circuit court gave judgment for the sum of $137.52, being the full value of the ring and interest. A writ of error was sued out from this court to the circuit court of Kenton county, that being the highest court of the state in which a decision could be had.
The answer and accompanying exhibit were in substance as follows: That the defendant was an express company engaged in interstate commerce within the provisions of the act of Congress of June 29, 1906 [34 Stat. at L. 584, chap. 3591, U.S.C.omp. Stat. Supp. 1911, p. 1288]; that in obedience to that act it had duly filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission schedules showing its rates and charges from Cincinnati to Augusta, Georgia, which schedules showed that its rates and charges, when the value of the property to be carried was in excess of $50, were graduated reasonably, according to the value, and that the lawful rate upon the package of the plaintiff from Cincinnati to Augusta was 25 cents if the value was $50 or less, and was 55 cents if its value was $125.
It is averred that the plaintiff knew that the charges upon the package shipped were based upon the value of the shipment, and that it (the defendant) required that the value should be declared by the shipper, and that if he did not disclose and declare the value when he delivered the shipment to it at Cincinnati for transportation to Augusta, the rate charged would be based upon a valuation of $50. It is then alleged that the package so delivered was sealed, and that defendant did not know the contents or value, and that if it had, it would not have received it for carriage for less than the lawful published rate of 55 cents. The receipt or bill of lading issued shows no value, but contains a stipulation in these words:
'In consideration of the rate charged for carrying said property, which is regulated by the value thereof, and is based upon a valuation of not exceeding $50 unless a greater value is declared, the shipper agrees that the value of said property is not more than $50, unless a greater value is stated herein, and that the company shall not be liable in any event for more than the value so stated, nor for more than $50 if no value is stated herein.' Messrs. Lawrence Maxwell and Joseph S. Graydon for plaintiff in error.
[Argument of Counsel from pages 494-497 intentionally omitted]
Messrs. John Randolph Schindel and Morison R. Waite for defendant in error.
[Argument of Counsel from pages 497-499 intentionally omitted]
Mr. Justice Lurton, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court: