North Pennsylvania v. Commercial National Bank
In 1877 one Paris Myrick was engaged at Chicago in the business of buying cattle and forwarding them by railway to Philadelphia. On the seventh of November of that year he bought 202 head of cattle, weighing 240,000 pounds, and on the same day delivered them to the Michigan Central Railroad Company at Chicago, to be transported to Philadelphia. That company is one of several railway carriers forming a continuous line from Chicago to Philadelphia. On the delivery of the cattle, Myrick took from the company the following receipt:
'MICHIGAN CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY,
'CHICAGO STATION, November 7, 1877.
'Received from Paris Myrick in apparent good order. Consigned to order Paris Myrick.
'Notify J. & W. Blaker, Philadelphia, Pa.
Articles. Marked. Weight or measure. 240,000
'Two hundred & two (202) Cattle.
'Advanced charges, $12.00.
'Marked and described as above, (contents and value otherwise unknown,) for transportation by the Michigan Central Railroad Company to the warehouse at * * *.
'Notice. See rules of transportation on the back hereof.
'Use separate receipts for each consignment.
'WM. GROGAN, Agent.'
On the margin of the receipt was the following notice:
'This company will not hold itself responsible for the accuracy of these weights as between buyer and seller; the approximate weight having been ascertained by track scales, which is sufficiently accurate for freighting purposes, but may not be strictly correct as between buyer and seller.
'This receipt can be exchanged for a through bill of lading.'
On the same day Myrick drew and delivered to the Commercial National Bank of Chicago a draft, of which the following is a copy:
'$12,287.57. CHICAGO, November 7, 1877.
'Pay to the order of George L. Otis, cashier, twelve thousand two handred and eighty-seven 57-100 dollars, value received, and charge the same to account of
To J. & W. Blaker, Newtown, Bucks Co., Pa.
As security for the payment of the draft, Myrick indorsed the receipt obtained from the railroad company, and delivered it with the draft to the bank, which thereupon gave him the money.
On the fourteenth of November, Myrick purchased 202 more head of cattle, weighing 260,000 pounds, and on that day delivered them to the Michigan Central Railroad Company at Chicago, to be transported to Philadelphia, and received from the company a similar receipt to the one taken on the first shipment. On the same day he drew another draft, and delivered it to the Commercial National Bank, of which the following is a copy:
'$12,448.12. CHICAGO, November 14, 1877.
'Pay to the order of Geo. L. Otis, cashier, twelve thousand four hundred & forty-eight 12-100 dollars, value received, and charge same to account of
To J. & W. Blaker, Newtown, Bucks Co., Pa.
For the payment of this draft, Myrick indorsed the receipt obtained from the railroad company, and delivered it, with the draft, to the bank, which thereupon gave him the money. The cattle of both shipments were conveyed on the road of the Michigan Central Railroad Company to Detroit, and thence over the roads of other connecting companies to Philadelphia. The last two carriers were the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company and the North Pennsylvania Railroad Company, whose lines extended between Waverly, Tioga county, New York, and Philadelphia. The cattle of both shipments were carried over the roads of these companies from Waverly on their joint way-bills. The 13 covering the first shipment were dated November 10, 1877, and 12 of them were alike except in the number of cattle carried under them. The following is a copy of one of them:
Kind and Consignee Description Weight Weight Weight Weight Weight Rate
number of or owners of articles. 1st class 2nd class 3rd class 4th class class A
Erie, 30483... P. Myrick. 18 cattle, rec. 20,000 ...... ...... ....... ...... 15 75
Notify J. &
Prepaid. Freight. Expences. Consignor.
..... 31 50 21 86 Buffalo
In the thirteenth joint way-bill of the first shipment the words 'Notify J. & W. Blaker' were omitted. The joint way-bills covering the second shipment were dated November 17, 1877, but, like the thirteenth joint way-bill of the first shipment, they did not contain the words 'Notify J. & W. Blaker' after the name of the consignee or owner. In other respects, except in the number of cattle carried, they were similar to those covering the first shipment.
The cattle of both shipments arrived in Philadelphia, the first on November 11th, and the second on November 18th,-and were immediately delivered by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company to the North Philadelphia Drove-Yard Company, which was formed for the business of receiving, taking care of, and delivering live-stock to their owners or consignees. This company notified the Blakers of the arrival of the cattle, and delivered them to those parties. The Blakers were dealers in cattle, and had particular pens in the yard assigned to them. The cattle of both shipments were placed in these pens by the agent of the railroad company at the drove-yard station, and he then wrote on the thirteenth joint way-bill of the first shipments, and on all the joint way-bills of the last shipment from Waverly, under the name of the consignee or owner, these words: 'Ac. J. & W. Blaker.' On the day after they arrived and were placed in these pens, in each case, the Blakers sold the cattle and appropriated the proceeds. The cattle of both shipments were delivered by the railroad company to the drove-yard company without any direction to hold the cattle subject to the order of the consignee, who was also the owner and shipper, and the cattle were delivered to the Blakers without such order. It does not appear that any demand was made by the railroad company, or by the drove-yard company, for anything to show the right of those parties to receive the cattle. The bank transmitted the drafts for collection, with the carriers' receipts attached, to its correspondent at Newtown, Pennsylvania. The Blakers were notified of the receipt of the drafts, but failed to accept them, and they were protested for non-acceptance November 27, 1877. They disposed of the cattle before the arrival of the drafts and carriers' receipts, and soon afterwards failed, and the drafts were not paid.
It appeared in evidence that Myrick had previously made numerous shipments of cattle from Chicago to Philadelphia, and taken similar receipts from the Michigan Central Railroad Company; that these cattle had been received by the North Pennsylvania Railroad Company, and delivered by it at Philadelphia to the drove-yard company; that it had been the practice of that railroad company to deliver the cattle to the drove-yard company, and of the latter company to deliver them to the Blakers without the production of the carrier's receipt or any bill of lading, or any order of the shipper for their delivery. It also appeared that there was no knowledge on the part of the Commercial Bank at Chicago, or of its correspondent at Newtown, of any such practice; that drafts of Myrick, cashed by that bank, had accompanied previous shipments of cattle; that such drafts, upon notice to the Blakers of their receipt, had always been promptly paid, and that the bills of lading (the carriers' receipts in question) were not surrendered to the Blakers until such payment.
Upon these facts the Commercial National Bank originally recovered a verdict and judgment against the Michigan Central Railroad Company; the court below holding that the receipts of that company constituted contracts to carry the cattle from Chicago to Philadelphia, and deliver them there to the shipper or to his order; but the judgment was reversed by this court on the ground that a through contract for their carriage was not established by those receipts, and that the question of whether or not there was such a contract for their carriage should have been submitted to the jury to determine from the circumstances of the case. Myrick v. Railroad Co., 107 U.S. 102, 1 Sup. Ct. Rep. 425. The present action was subsequently brought against the North Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the last of the series of railroad carriers in the line from Chicago to Philadelphia, for the non-delivery at Philadelphia of the cattle of both shipments to the order of the shipper, as designated in the receipts given to him at Chicago, and in the way-bills given at Waverly; that is, to his assignee, the plaintiff herein. Upon the vidence in the case, which developed the facts substantially as stated, the court directed a verdict for the plaintiff for the amount of its claim. A verdict was accordingly rendered for $34,271.41, which was the amount of the drafts, with interest from their dates. The cattle sold in November, 1877, for a sum greater than the amount of both drafts. Judgment being entered on the verdict, the case was brought to this court for review.
Geo. F. Edmunds and Wm. R. Wistar, for plaintiff in error.
J. A. Sleeper and Wayne MacVeagh, for defendant in error.
Mr. Justice FIELD, after stating the facts as above, delivered the opinion of the court.