Eastover Mule & Horse Co. v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co.

Decision Date21 October 1914
Docket Number8973.
Citation83 S.E. 599,99 S.C. 470
PartiesEASTOVER MULE & HORSE CO. v. ATLANTIC COAST LINE R. CO.
CourtSouth Carolina Supreme Court

Appeal from Common Pleas Circuit Court of Calhoun County; T. H Spain, Judge.

Action by the Eastover Mule & Horse Company against the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant appeals. Affirmed.

Henry E. Davis, of Florence, and M. M. Mann and J. A. Merritt, both of St. Matthews, for appellant.

De Bruhl, McLauchlin & Smith, of Columbia, for respondent.

GAGE J.

Action to recover $1,266.06 for damages to a car of live stock. Plaintiff had a verdict for $900. Defendant appeals.

The appellant has argued only two issues; they are (1) The defendant's liability is only $605.71, if for anything, and not for $900, found by the jury. (2) The defendant is not liable at all, by the terms of the Carmack amendment.

These in an inverse order. The following is the Carmack amendment:

"That any common carrier, railroad, or transportation company receiving property for transportation from a point in one state to a point in another state shall issue a receipt or bill of lading therefor and shall be liable to the lawful holder thereof for any loss, damage, or injury to such property caused by it or any common carrier, railroad, or transportation company to which such property may be delivered, or over whose line or lines such property may pass, not contract, receipt, rule or regulation shall exempt such common carrier, railroad, or transportation company from liability hereby imposed: Provided, that nothing in this section shall deprive any holder of such receipt or bill of lading of any remedy or right of action which he has under existing law.
That the common carrier, railroad, or transportation company issuing such receipt or bill of lading shall be entitled to recover from the common carrier, railroad or transportation company on whose line the loss, damage or injury shall have been sustained, the amount of such loss damage, or injury, as it may be required to pay to the owners of such property, as may be evidenced by any receipt judgment, or transcript thereof."

By plain expression that law makes the initial carrier liable for a loss or damage; it does not exempt from liability expressly or by implication, the terminal carrier, or any other. Without that law the terminal carrier would be liable; that law makes it so by implication, though not by expression. The last paragraph, contemplating payment by the initial carrier, makes liable to it that carrier on whose line the injury shall have been sustained. The terminal carrier, which may have caused the damage, is by the statute liable to the initial carrier which may have paid for the damage. But the appellant's contention is that such liability of the terminal carrier is limited by expression to the initial carrier. That is not so; the Congress did not mean to say that there should be two suits to settle one controversy, one by the consignee against the initial carrier, and another by the initial carrier against the terminal carrier. It was assumed, and therefore no expression was made of it, that if the terminal carrier actually did the damage, it would of course be liable to the owner of the property. The statute was enacted because initial carriers had inaugurated a practice of stipulating in their bills of lading that they would not be liable for losses occurring on other lines. So the statute was aimed at initial and not terminal carriers. Adams Ex. Co. v. Croninger, 226 U.S. 504, 33 S.Ct. 148, 57 L.Ed. 314, 44 L. R. A. (N. S.) 257; Deaver v. So. Ry. Co., 95 S.C. 487, 79 S.E. 709. There is under the statute no ground of policy or of reason why the appellant in this case should not be liable to the owner of this live stock, if the appellant did the damage to it. The implication therefore is that the appellant is...

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