SOUTHEASTERN EXPRESS CO. v. PASTIME AMUSEMENT CO.(1936)
Mr. Harry L. Greene, of Atlanta, Ga., for petitioner.
Respondent sued to recover damages for failure to deliver a moving picture film in time to be exhibited as advertised. The jury rendered a verdict for $1,500 and the judgment thereon was affirmed by the Supreme Court of South Carolina. 186 S.E. 283. The court overruled petitioner's contention based on the federal act known as the Carmack Amendment. 49 U.S. C. 20(11), 49 U.S.C.A. 20(11). It appeared that the shipment was interstate, from Jacksonville, Florida, to Charleston, South Carolina. The applicable tariff filed by the carrier provided:
There was evidence that the value declared was $50 and that the rate was fixed accordingly. The trial court ruled that as the suit was for damages for the interruption of plaintiff's business caused by the delay alleged to be due to negligence, the limitation of liability did not apply. The Supreme Court of the State sustained that view.
We hold that this was error. The federal statute controls. Adams Express Co. v. Croninger, 226 U.S. 491, 505 , 506 S., 33 S.Ct. 148, 44 L.R.A. (N.S.) 257; Kansas City Southern R. Co. v. Carl, 227 U.S. 639 , 650-652, 33 S.Ct. 391; Georgia, Florida & Alabama R. Co. v. Blish Milling Co., 241 U.S. 190, 196 , 197 S., 36 S.Ct. 541. The words of the statute 'are comprehensive enough to embrace all damages resulting from any failure to discharge a carrier's duty with respect to any part of the transportation to the agreed destination.' The statute thus applies to damages caused by delay in making delivery. New York, Philadelphia & Norfolk R. Co. v. Peninsula Produce Exchange, 240 U.S. 34, 38 , 36 S.Ct. 230, L.R.A.1917A, 193; Georgia, Florida & Alabama R. Co. v. Blish Milling Co., supra. The underlying principle is that the carrier is entitled to base rates upon value and that its compensation should bear a reasonable relation to the risk and responsibility assumed. Kansas City Southern R. Co. v. Carl, supra. The broad purpose of the federal act is to compel the establishment of reasonable rates and to provide for their uniform application. Special contracts are not permitted to give any advantage to a particular shipper. Chicago & Alton R. [299 U.S. 28, 30] Co. v. Kirby, 225 U.S. 155, 166 , 32 S.Ct. 648, Ann.Cas. 1914A, 501. The liability in this instance is thus governed by the provisions of the applicable tariff and no recovery could be had in excess of the amount permitted by its terms. New York, Philadelphia & Norfolk R. Co. v. Peninsula Produce Exchange, supra, 240 U.S. 34 , at pages 41, 42, 36 S.Ct. 230, L.R.A.1917A, 193; Southern Express Co. v. Byers, 240 U.S. 612, 614 , 36 S.Ct. 410, L.R.A.1917A, 197; Southern Railway Co. v. Prescott, 240 U.S. 632, 638 , 36 S.Ct. 469; American Railway Express Co. v. Daniel, 269 U.S. 40, 42 , 46 S.Ct. 15.
The judgment is reversed, and the cause is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
Mr. Justice STONE took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.