Southern Express Company v. John Byers, No. 201

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMcReynolds
Citation240 U.S. 612,36 S.Ct. 410,60 L.Ed. 825
PartiesSOUTHERN EXPRESS COMPANY, Plff. in Err., v. JOHN BYERS
Decision Date03 April 1916
Docket NumberNo. 201

240 U.S. 612
36 S.Ct. 410
60 L.Ed. 825
SOUTHERN EXPRESS COMPANY, Plff. in Err.,

v.

JOHN BYERS.

No. 201.
Submitted March 2, 1916.
Decided April 3, 1916.

Messrs. Julius C. Martin, Thomas S. Rollins, George H. Wright, and Robert C. Alston for plaintiff in error.

No brief was filed for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice McReynolds delivered the opinion of the court:

Claiming damages solely on account of mental anguish occasioned by failure promptly to deliver a casket and

Page 613

grave clothes intended for his wife's burial, and accepted by plaintiff in error with knowledge of the facts at Asheville, North Carolina, for transportation to Hickory Grove, South Carolina, Byers recovered a judgment against it for $250, and this was affirmed by the supreme court of North Carolina. 165 N. C. 542, 81 S. E. 741.

In defense the Express Company averred: That while engaged in interstate commerce it received the described articles at Asheville and transported them to Hickory Grove; that, as required by act of Congress approved June 29, 1906 [34 Stat. at L. 584, chap. 3591, Comp. Stat. 1913, § 8563], and amendments, it had filed a schedule of rates with the Interstate Commerce Commission; that at time of shipment it issued a bill of lading limiting liability to $50; that it had paid the shipper the full amount expended by him in purchasing the articles; that no present liability exists, and especially under the laws of the United States it is not responsible for such damages as those specified.

There was put in evidence a duly executed receipt for $64.17, 'being in full payment for one coffin delivered to Southern Express Company at Asheville, North Carolina, on April 1st, 1912, by John Byers, to be shipped to Sarah Moore, Hickory Grove, South Carolina;' and Byers testified that 'the Southern Express Company paid him for all the money he had paid out on the casket and other things contained in the shipment, but did not pay him anything for damages.' The bill of lading was also introduced. It specified no value and undertook to restrict the carrier's liability to $50. Clause 1 is copied in the margin.1 Objection was sustained to a seasonable

Page 614

offer by the company to prove its schedules of rates on file with the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Manifestly the shipment was interstate commerce; and, under the settled doctrine established by our former opinions, rights and liabilities in connection therewith depend upon acts of Congress, the bill of lading and common-law principles accepted and enforced by the Federal courts. In order to determine the validity and effect of restrictions upon liability contained in such bills, it is important, if not indeed essential, to consider the applicable schedules Exp. Co. v. Croninger, 226 U. S. 491, 57 L. Exp. Co. v. Croninger, 220 U. S. 491, 57 L. ed. 314, 44 L.R.A.(N.S.) 257, 33 Sup. Ct. Rep. 148; Chicago, B. & Q. R. Co. v. Miller, 226 U. S. 513, 57 L. ed. 323, 33 Sup. Ct. Rep. 155; Chicago, St. P. M. & O. R. Co. v. Latta, 226 U. S. 519, 57 L. ed. 328, 33 Sup. Ct. Rep. 155; Wells, F. & Co. v. Neiman-Marcus Co. 227 U. S. 469, 57 L. ed. 600, 33 Sup. Ct. Rep. 267; Kansas City Southern R. Co. v. Carl, 227 U. S. 639, 57 L. ed. 683, 33 Sup. Ct. Rep. 391; Missouri, K. & T. R. Co. v. Harriman, 227 U. S. 657, 57 L. ed. 690, 33 Sup. Ct. Rep. 397; Chicago, R. I. & P. R. Co. v. Cramer, 232 U. S. 490, 58 L. ed. 697, 34 Sup. Ct. Rep. 383; Boston & M. R. Co. v. Hooker, 233 U. S. 97, 58 L. ed. 868, L.R.A.1915B, 450, Ann. Cas. 1915D,...

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138 practice notes
  • Ivy Broadcasting Co. v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., No. 305
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • February 13, 1968
    ...and, without discussion of whether state or federal law was applicable, applied the federal rule of Southern Express Co. v. Byers, 240 U.S. 612, 36 S.Ct. 410, 60 L.Ed. 825 (1916), that a suit could not be maintained for mental suffering These cases lead us to conclude that questions concern......
  • Doe v. Chao, No. 00-2247.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • September 20, 2002
    ...the violation of the most precious of rights, those secured by the United States Constitution. See, e.g., Southern Express Co. v. Byers, 240 U.S. 612, 615, 36 S.Ct. 410, 60 L.Ed. 825 (1916) (noting, in the context of a common-law cause of action, "the elementary principle that mere pain and......
  • Buchholz v. Meyer Njus Tanick, PA, No. 18-2261
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • January 3, 2020
    ...concede that the common law typically authorized "no recovery" if a plaintiff incurred only "mental suffering." S. Express Co. v. Byers , 240 U.S. 612, 615, 36 S.Ct. 410, 60 L.Ed. 825 (1916) (citing 1 Thomas Cooley, A Treatise on the Law of Torts 94 (3d ed. 1906)); see Restatement (First) o......
  • Rice & Lockwood Lumber Co. v. Boston & M.R.R.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • January 10, 1941
    ...determined by the bill of lading and the common-law principles accepted and enforced by the federal courts. Southern Express Co. v. Byers, 240 U.S. 612, 36 S.Ct. 410, 60 L.Ed. 825, L.R.A.1917A, 197;Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railway v. Rankin, 241 U.S. 319, 36 S.Ct. 555, 60 L.E......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
138 cases
  • Ivy Broadcasting Co. v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., No. 305
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)
    • February 13, 1968
    ...and, without discussion of whether state or federal law was applicable, applied the federal rule of Southern Express Co. v. Byers, 240 U.S. 612, 36 S.Ct. 410, 60 L.Ed. 825 (1916), that a suit could not be maintained for mental suffering These cases lead us to conclude that questions concern......
  • Doe v. Chao, No. 00-2247.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (4th Circuit)
    • September 20, 2002
    ...the violation of the most precious of rights, those secured by the United States Constitution. See, e.g., Southern Express Co. v. Byers, 240 U.S. 612, 615, 36 S.Ct. 410, 60 L.Ed. 825 (1916) (noting, in the context of a common-law cause of action, "the elementary principle that mere pain and......
  • Buchholz v. Meyer Njus Tanick, PA, No. 18-2261
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • January 3, 2020
    ...concede that the common law typically authorized "no recovery" if a plaintiff incurred only "mental suffering." S. Express Co. v. Byers , 240 U.S. 612, 615, 36 S.Ct. 410, 60 L.Ed. 825 (1916) (citing 1 Thomas Cooley, A Treatise on the Law of Torts 94 (3d ed. 1906)); see Restatement (First) o......
  • Rice & Lockwood Lumber Co. v. Boston & M.R.R.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • January 10, 1941
    ...determined by the bill of lading and the common-law principles accepted and enforced by the federal courts. Southern Express Co. v. Byers, 240 U.S. 612, 36 S.Ct. 410, 60 L.Ed. 825, L.R.A.1917A, 197;Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railway v. Rankin, 241 U.S. 319, 36 S.Ct. 555, 60 L.E......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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