13 Cal. 422, Parks v. Alta California Tel. Co.

Citation13 Cal. 422
Opinion JudgeBALDWIN, Judge
Party NamePARKS v. ALTA CALIFORNIA TELEGRAPH COMPANY
AttorneyGeo. Cadwalader, for Appellant. H. H. Hartley, for Respondent.
Judge PanelJUDGES: Baldwin, J. delivered the opinion of the Court. Terry, C. J. concurring.
Case DateApril 01, 1859
CourtSupreme Court of California

Page 422

13 Cal. 422

PARKS

v.

ALTA CALIFORNIA TELEGRAPH COMPANY

Supreme Court of California

April, 1859

Page 423

Appeal from the Sixth Judicial District.

The Court below held that a telegraph company was not a common carrier; was not in any sense an insurer; that a message had not any market value; and that the measure of damages was limited to the cost of the dispatch, which being two dollars and fifty cents, judgment therefor was rendered. Plaintiff moved for a new trial, which being denied, this appeal was taken in his behalf.

COUNSEL:

Geo. Cadwalader, for Appellant.

1. The telegraph is a public vehicle; a common carrier; whose value consists in its accuracy and dispatch, which, to be preserved, must be guarded by the strict rules defining the liability of common carriers.

2. No exemption from such liability can be claimed upon the ground that the motive power is a subtle, and often uncontrollable, agent.

3. Debts have all the characteristics of property; and the negligence of the defendant destroyed the value of the debt, owing to the plaintiff.

4. The measure of damages is the cost of the dispatch and the amount of the debt. (5 N.H. 357; 14 Pet. 99; 1 Starkie, 410; 19 Johnson, 381, 9 Bing. 68; 6 Id. 212; 17 Ala. 689; 7 Hill, 61; 13 How. 307; 18 Vt. 620; 10 Cal. 239; 7 Cush. 522; 8 Pick. 356; 9 Wend. 325; 8 Exch. 401; 10 Id. 401; 4 Id. 388; 20 Wend. 327; 24 Penn. 114.)

H. H. Hartley, for Respondent.

1. The rules of law governing common carriers do not apply to telegraph companies. They are not insurers, because a message is without value.

2. The legal measure of damages is the price paid for the dispatch. The loss of the debt is too remote, and the maxim is causa proxima non remota spectatur. (Coggs v. Bernard, 2 Lord Ray. 909; 2 Kent, 558; 1 Pick. 50; Sedg. on Damages, 112; 5 Hill, 472; 15 Pick. 297; 1 Iowa 406; 1 Lord Ray. 546; 3 Denio, 406; 17 Mass. 168; 21 Wend. 342.)

JUDGES: Baldwin, J. delivered the opinion of the Court. Terry, C. J. concurring.

OPINION

BALDWIN, Judge

Page 424

On the 7th day of October, 1856, about 7 o'clock p. m., the defendant contracted with the plaintiff, at Mokelumne Hill, for the immediate dispatch of a message to the city of Stockton. The dispatch was directed to the agent of the plaintiff, in these words: " Due, 1,800; attach if you can...

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48 practice notes
  • 98 N.W. 281 (Iowa 1904), Cowan v. W.U. Tel. Co.
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 23, 1904
    ...treated as a common carrier. Gillis v. Telegraph Co., 61 Vt. 461 (17 A. 736, 4 L.R.A. 611, 15 Am. St. Rep. 917); Parks v. Telegraph Co., 13 Cal. 422 [122 Iowa 385] (73 Am. Dec. 589). As such, it is charged with a common-law duty, and "an action may be brought in tort, although the brea......
  • 96 N.W. 545 (Wis. 1903), Fisher v. Western Union Telegraph Company
    • United States
    • Wisconsin Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • September 29, 1903
    ...531; State Ins. Co. v. Jamison, 79 Iowa 245, 44 N.W. 371; McPeek v. W. U. Tel. Co. 107 Iowa 356, 78 N.W. 63; Parks v. Alta C. Tel. Co. 13 Cal. 423; Western U. Tel. Co. v. Cook, 54 Neb. 109, 74 N.W. 395; Wallingford v. W. U. Tel. Co. 60 S.C. 210, 38 S.E. 443. For the respondent there was a b......
  • 114 N.W. 439 (Wis. 1908), Barker v. Western Union Telegraph Co.
    • United States
    • Wisconsin Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • January 8, 1908
    ...Hartstein v. W. U. Tel. Co. 89 Wis. 531; Texas & W. T. & T. Co. v. McKenzie, 36 Tex. Civ. App. 178; Parks v. Alta Cal. Tel. Co. 13 Cal. 422; Wallingford v. W. U. Tel. Co. 60 S.C. 201, 38 S.E. 443; Hasbrouck v. W. U. Tel. Co. 107 Iowa 160, 77 N.W. 1034; State Ins. Co. v. Jamison, 79 ......
  • 245 N.Y. 284, Kerr S.S. Co., Inc. v. Radio Corp. of America
    • United States
    • New York New York Court of Appeals
    • May 31, 1927
    ...114 A.D. 821; Pearsall v. Western Union Tel. Co., 124 N.Y. 256; U.S. Tel. Co. v. Wenger, 55 Penn. St. 266; Parks v. Alta, etc., Tel. Co., 13 Cal. 422; Mowry v. Western Union Tel. Co., 51 Hun, 126; Jones on Telegraph & Telephone Companies [2d ed.], § 542; Bryant v. American Tel. Co., 1 D......
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48 cases
  • 98 N.W. 281 (Iowa 1904), Cowan v. W.U. Tel. Co.
    • United States
    • Iowa Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 23, 1904
    ...treated as a common carrier. Gillis v. Telegraph Co., 61 Vt. 461 (17 A. 736, 4 L.R.A. 611, 15 Am. St. Rep. 917); Parks v. Telegraph Co., 13 Cal. 422 [122 Iowa 385] (73 Am. Dec. 589). As such, it is charged with a common-law duty, and "an action may be brought in tort, although the brea......
  • 96 N.W. 545 (Wis. 1903), Fisher v. Western Union Telegraph Company
    • United States
    • Wisconsin Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • September 29, 1903
    ...531; State Ins. Co. v. Jamison, 79 Iowa 245, 44 N.W. 371; McPeek v. W. U. Tel. Co. 107 Iowa 356, 78 N.W. 63; Parks v. Alta C. Tel. Co. 13 Cal. 423; Western U. Tel. Co. v. Cook, 54 Neb. 109, 74 N.W. 395; Wallingford v. W. U. Tel. Co. 60 S.C. 210, 38 S.E. 443. For the respondent there was a b......
  • 114 N.W. 439 (Wis. 1908), Barker v. Western Union Telegraph Co.
    • United States
    • Wisconsin Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • January 8, 1908
    ...Hartstein v. W. U. Tel. Co. 89 Wis. 531; Texas & W. T. & T. Co. v. McKenzie, 36 Tex. Civ. App. 178; Parks v. Alta Cal. Tel. Co. 13 Cal. 422; Wallingford v. W. U. Tel. Co. 60 S.C. 201, 38 S.E. 443; Hasbrouck v. W. U. Tel. Co. 107 Iowa 160, 77 N.W. 1034; State Ins. Co. v. Jamison, 79 ......
  • 245 N.Y. 284, Kerr S.S. Co., Inc. v. Radio Corp. of America
    • United States
    • New York New York Court of Appeals
    • May 31, 1927
    ...114 A.D. 821; Pearsall v. Western Union Tel. Co., 124 N.Y. 256; U.S. Tel. Co. v. Wenger, 55 Penn. St. 266; Parks v. Alta, etc., Tel. Co., 13 Cal. 422; Mowry v. Western Union Tel. Co., 51 Hun, 126; Jones on Telegraph & Telephone Companies [2d ed.], § 542; Bryant v. American Tel. Co., 1 D......
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