Chicago Alton Railraod Company v. Nathaniel Kirby

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation225 U.S. 155,32 S.Ct. 648,56 L.Ed. 1033
Docket NumberNo. 226,226
Decision Date27 May 1912

Messrs. Garrard B. Winston, William Patten, and Silas H. Strawn for plaintiff in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 156-159 intentionally omitted] Messrs. Albert Salzenstein and James M. Graham for defendant in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 159-162 intentionally omitted] Mr. Justice Lurton delivered the opinion of the court:

Action in assumpsit to recover damages for the breach of a special contract for the shipment of a carload of high-grade horses from Springfield, Illinois, to New York city. There was a jury, verdict and judgment, which was affirmed by the supreme court of Illinois. The facts essential to be here stated are these: Kirby was engaged in developing high-grade horses, and desired to send a carload to be sold at a public sale to be held in Madison Square Garden, New York city. Several routes were available, and the published livestock rates for carload shipments were the same by each route. It was, however, desirable to send them by the route which would insure their arrival in the shortest time after delivery to the carrier.

The declaration in substance avers that the plaintiff in error, knowing the anxiety, of the shipper for quick transportation, and that the horses were to enter the horse sale to be held late in the month, did, on January 24, 1906, contract and agree to carry a car, rented by defendant in error, loaded with horses, for the consideration of $170.60, over its own rails from Springfield to Joliet, Illinois, and there deliver so that it would be carried by a fast stock train known as the 'Horse Special,' over the M. C. Railroad, through to New York. Said horse special was run but three times each week, and was due to leave Joliet the following morning. It is then alleged that the defendant in error, as directed by the railroad company, delivered and loaded his horses on the afternoon of the 24th; but that the company did not promptly carry and deliver the same to the said fast stock train on the morning of the 25th, as it had guaranteed to do, having failed to make connection with that train; and, that, as a consequence, the car was forwarded by a later and much slower train, and the horses were delivered in New York forty-eight hours after they would have arrived had they been carried by the Horse Special, as the plaintiff in error undertook. As a result of this prolonged transportation, the horses did not reach New York in time to be put in proper condition for the horse sale, whereby the defendant in error sustained damages aggregating several thousand dollars.

The plaintiff in error pleaded the general issue and under this presented certain defenses which we shall pass by, as not constituting questions of law or fact open to review upon a writ of error to a state court.

The single Federal question arises upon the validity of the contract to so carry these horses as to deliver them at Joilet, to be carried through to New York by the Horse Special, leaving Joliet on the 25th of January.

That the railroad company had established and published through joint rates and charges upon carload shipments of live stock to New York is not disputed. The rates furnished the defendant in error were the regularly published rates. Those rates and schedules did not provide for an expedited service, nor for transportation by any particular train. Neither was Kirby required to pay any other or higher rate for the promised special service, by which his car was to be carried so as to be attached to the fast stock special and carried by it to New York.

By the 3d section of the original act of 1887 (24 Stat. at L. p. 379, chap. 104, U. S. Comp. Stat. Supp. 1911, p. 1284), it is made unlawful to give any undue or unreasonable 'preference or advantage' to any particular person, or to subject any particular person to 'any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage in any respect whatever.' By the 6th section of the same act it is required that the carriers subject to the act shall print and keep for public inspection schedules showing the rates, charges, and classifications, 'and any rules or regulations which in any wise change or affect or determine any part or the aggregate of such aforesaid rates and fares and charges.' The same section also provides as follows: 'And when any such common carrier shall have established and published its rates, fares, and charges in compliance with the provisions of this section, it shall be unlawful for such common carrier to charge,...

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