Little v. Boston & Maine Railroad

Decision Date24 June 1876
Citation66 Me. 239
CourtMaine Supreme Court


CASE against the defendants as common carriers, for the loss of a box containing jewelry goods of the alleged value of $1700 received by the defendants at Boston, November 28, 1871 marked H. A. Osgood, Lewiston, Maine.

Plea, general issue.

The evidence showed that the box declared on, in good order and plainly directed, was delivered in Boston to the plaintiffs doing business under the name of the Kennebec & Boston Express, by the New York express company to whom the plaintiffs paid the expense of forty cents, the smallness of the charge indicating that it contained goods of ordinary value only; that the plaintiffs delivered it to the defendant company in Boston, to be carried with other freight at the rate of $5.00 per ton; that neither the plaintiffs nor the defendants knew what the box contained; that the custom of the plaintiffs was to send their valuable articles in a strong chest by an express messenger; that the charge on this box was thirty cents from Boston to Lewiston; that if the value had been known it would have been about $2.50; that before the freight car arrived at Lewiston the door of it was seen to be off and gone, and when it arrived there this box was missing. The plaintiff put into the case, the record of a judgment in Androscoggin county, rendered February 3, 1874, against them in behalf of Henry A. Osgood, on a verdict found at the September term in 1872 for $1695; cost taxed $63.77.

The case was submitted to the full court, to render such judgment as the law and facts require, and to assess the damages.

E. O. Bean, for the plaintiffs.

J. W. Bradbury, for the defendants.


The plaintiffs are express forwarders. They received in the course of business a box containing articles of value, and, in ignorance of its contents, delivered it to the defendants at Boston to be by them transported to Lewiston, the place of its destination, there to be delivered to H. A. Osgood. The defendants were under contract with the plaintiffs to carry their freight by the ton. They received the box for transportation. By their way-bill under date of November 28, 1871, such reception is acknowledged. Before the train reached Lewiston the door of the car containing the box in controversy was found to be off and gone, and on their arrival at Lewiston the box could not be found. Subsequently, the plaintiffs were sued and judgment was recovered against them for the value of the goods lost.

The question presented is whether under these facts the plaintiffs are entitled to recover.

The defendants are common carriers, and subject to the responsibility and liabilities imposed upon them as such. " The common carrier is responsible for the loss of a box or parcel, though he be ignorant of its contents, or though those contents be ever so valuable, unless he make a special acceptance." 2 Kent Com. 603. Sager v. P. S. & P. Railroad, 31 Me. 228. Such is the general rule; but if the owner is guilty of fraud or imposition, as by fraudulently concealing the value of the parcel, or in any way leading the carrier to regard it as of little value, he cannot hold him liable for the goods lost. These plaintiffs cannot be deemed guilty of fraud in concealing the value of the box in controversy, when its contents were unknown.

The freight may depend upon the value of the article to be carried. When the article is of extraordinary or unusual value, the carrier would well be entitled to a higher rate of compensation, inasmuch as he might be reasonably held to a greater degree of care....

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8 cases
  • Arnold v. The City of Maryville
    • United States
    • Kansas Court of Appeals
    • February 6, 1905
    ... ... 750; ... O'Leary v. Rowan, 31 Mo. 119; Brown v ... Railroad, 99 Mo. 318; Muth, Ex., v. Railroad, ... 87 Mo.App. 442. (2) Where it is ... Winsor, 118 Mass. 251; Keenan v ... Kavanaugh, 44 Vt. 268; Little v. Railroad, 66 ... Me. 239; Hart v. Railroad, 13 Met. 104; Kellogg ... ...
  • Schaff v. Kramer
    • United States
    • Oklahoma Supreme Court
    • March 31, 1925
    ...v. Steamboat Co., 98 Mass. 371; Graves v. R. R. Co. 16 Am. and Eng. R. R. Case. 108; Batson v. Donoran, 4 B. and Ald., 21; Little v. R. R. Co., 66 Me. 239; Exp. Co. v. Everett, 37 Ga. 688; Am. Express Co. v. Perkins, 42 Ill. 458; R. R. Co. v. Henlein, 52 Ala. 606; Relf v. Rapp, 3 W. and S. ......
  • Shaff v. Kramer
    • United States
    • Oklahoma Supreme Court
    • March 31, 1925
    ...Steamboat Co., 98 Mass. 371; Graves v. R. R. Co., 17 Rep. 623, 16 Am. & Eng. R. R. Case, 108; Batson v. Donoran, 4 B. & Ald. 21; Little v. R. R. Co., 66 Me. 239; Exp. Co. v. Everett, 37 Ga. 688; Am. Express v. Perkins, 42 Ill. 458; R. R. Co. v. Henlein, 52 Ala. 606, 23 Am. Rep. 578; Relf. v......
  • Durgin v. Am. Exp. Co.
    • United States
    • New Hampshire Supreme Court
    • July 25, 1890
    ...Bailm. (2d. Ed.) §§ 567-569; Hart v. Railroad Co., 112 U. S. 331, 5 Sup. Ct. Rep. 151; Graves v. Railway Co., 137 Mass. 33; Little v. Railroad Co., 66 Me. 239; Magnin v. Dinsmore, 62 N. Y. 35; Railway Co. v. Weakly, 50 Ark. 397, 8 S. W. Rep. 134. The stipulation as to an agreed valuation in......
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