Fisher v. Boston & M. R. Co.

Decision Date12 December 1904
Citation99 Me. 338,59 A. 532
PartiesFISHER v. BOSTON & M. R. CO.
CourtMaine Supreme Court

(Official.)

Report from Supreme Judicial court, Aroostook County.

Action by Thomas A. Fisher against the Boston & Maine Railroad Company. Case reported. Judgment for plaintiff.

Action on the case to recover the increased cost of transportation which the plaintiff was obliged to pay on three cars of potatoes shipped by him from Fort Fairfield, Me., to Philadelphia, caused by the defendant forwarding the potatoes from Boston by a route other than that designated by the plaintiff. In addition to the general issue, the defendant filed a brief statement alleging:

"(1) That under clause 2 of the contract of shipment made by the plaintiff with the defendant through the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad Company, the initial carrier, and the agent in that behalf of the defendant, the defendant was specially licensed and authorized by the plaintiff, in case of necessity, to forward the potatoes described in the plaintiff's writ by any railroad or route between the point of shipment and the point to which the rate was given, to wit Philadelphia, and the defendant was not bound to carry said potatoes by any particular train or route, or in any time for any particular market, otherwise than with as reasonable dispatch as the general business of the defendant would permit. And the defendant says that on account of strikes and labor troubles, involving freight handlers and teamsters, in said Boston, at the time said potatoes should have been delivered in the due course of business to said Boston & Philadelphia Steamship Company, it was impossible for the defendant to deliver said potatoes to said steamship company.

"(2) That it was also impossible for said steamship company to receive and handle and forward same to Philadelphia. And it was also impossible for the defendant or said steamship company to form any idea of the duration of said strikes and labor troubles, or to form any idea as to when the same could be forwarded by said steamship company to Philadelphia.

"(3) That it was further impossible for the defendant, with its large amount of business, to communicate at that time with the plaintiff.

"(4) That, in forwarding said potatoes by the Metropolitan Steamship Line, it acted, as it believed, for the best interests of the shipper; said potatoes being perishable goods, and the weather during said month of March being uncertain; said Metropolitan Steamship Company affording the surest and quickest means of forwarding said potatoes to their destination."

After the evidence had been taken out, it was agreed to report the case to the law court for determination.

Argued before WISWELL, C. J., and WHITEHOUSE, STROUT, SAVAGE, PEABODY, and SPEAR, JJ.

B. L. Fletcher, for plaintiff.

John B. & A. W. Madigan, for defendant.

WISWELL, C. J. On March 1, 1902, the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad Company received of the plaintiff a ear load of potatoes to be transported over its own and connecting lines, and delivered to a consignee in Philadelphia; and on March 7th it received from the plaintiff two other car loads of potatoes, consigned to the same person in Philadelphia, for the same purpose. The route designated by the shipper for these three cars was by rail to Boston, and from Boston to Philadelphia by the Boston & Philadelphia Steamship Company; this designated route being plainly shown by this language in the bill of lading or shipping receipt given by the initial carrier, "Route via Boston and Philadelphia Steamship Company;" the same language being contained in each of the three shipping receipts. It is not claimed that there was any ambiguity whatever as to the route chosen by the shipper, and thus designated in the shipping receipts. These cars were duly transported by the initial and an immediate carrier, and delivered to the defendant, a common carrier, at Portland, the point of intersection. The defendant there received these three car loads of potatoes, and transported the same to its terminus in Boston; the first car arriving on March 7, and the other two on March 11, 1902.

At the time of the arrival of the last two cars in Boston, a general strike of teamsters and freight handlers existed, which commenced on March 10th, and continued until about March 14th, and this strike was of such extent that, as may be conceded, it became impossible, or at least impracticable, by the exercise of reasonable diligence, for the defendant to transfer these potatoes and deliver them to the next designated connecting carrier, the Boston & Philadelphia Steamship Company. Thereupon the defendant, without notifying either the consignor or the consignee, either by mail, telegraph, or telephone, although, as it appears, there were ample means of communication both by mail and by wire, delivered these potatoes on March 11th to the Metropolitan Steamship Company, by which they were transported to New York, delivered to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, and from there transported by that company by rail to Philadelphia, where they were delivered to the consignee. The cost of transportation by this route to the plaintiff was $91.31 for the three car loads—more than it would have been if they had been transported by the route chosen by the shipper, and plainly designated in the shipping receipts. The plaintiff, having paid this extra cost of transportation under protest, seeks to recover that amount in this action, which comes to the law court upon a report of the evidence.

Independently of any stipulation in the contract limiting its liability, the defendant would unquestionably be liable for this loss to the plaintiff, caused by its failure to forward the goods by the designated route. The defendant's contract, by virtue of the acceptance of these cars with the route designated, was to transport them over its own line to Boston, and there to deliver them to the next designated connecting carrier; and for its failure to do so, to the injury of the plaintiff in the manner referred to, it would be liable to the plaintiff for the increased cost of transportation. Proctor v. Eastern Railroad Company, 105 Mass. 512. That the intermediate carrier is liable to the shipper for any loss which occurs through its fault, after the goods have come into its possession,...

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4 cases
  • Solum v. N. Pac. Ry. Co.
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • May 19, 1916
    ...Am. St. Rep. 353;Alabama G. S. Ry. Co. v. McKenzie, 139 Ga. 410, 77 S. E. 647,45 L. R. A. (N. S.) 18;Fisher v. Railroad Co., 99 Me. 338, 59 Atl. 532,68 L. R. A. 390, 105 Am. St. Rep. 283;Blitz v. Union Steamboat Co., 51 Mich. 558, 17 N. W. 55; G., C. & S. F. Ry. Co. v. Irvine (Tex. Civ. App......
  • Solum v. Northern Pacific Railway Company
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • May 19, 1916
    ... ... 754, 28 ... S.E. 461, 62 Am. St. 353; Alabama G.S.R. Co. v ... McKenzie, 139 Ga. 410, 77 S.E. 647, 45 L.R.A. (N.S.) 18; ... Fisher v. Boston & M.R. Co. 99 Me. 338, 59 A. 532, ... 68 L.R.A. 390, 105 Am. St. 283; Blitz v. Union Steamboat ... Co. 51 Mich. 558, 17 N.W. 55; Gulf C ... ...
  • Johnson v. N.Y., N. H. & H. R. R.
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • December 6, 1913
    ...as is reasonable and practicable, any loss or damage which may be occasioned by delays in transit. Fisher v. Railroad Co., 99 Me. 338, 59 Atl. 532, 68 L. R. A. 390, 105 Am. St Rep. 283. What is reasonable diligence in this class of cases, as in all others where reasonableness is the standar......
  • Coombs v. Harford
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • December 27, 1904

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