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U.S. Supreme Court

Railroad Company v. Fraloff, 100 U.S. 24 (1879)

Railroad Company v. Fraloff

100 U.S. 24


1. It is competent for general carriers of passengers, by specific regulations, distinctly brought to the knowledge of the passenger, which are reasonable, and not inconsistent with a statute or their duties to the public, to protect themselves against liability as insurers of his baggage which exceeds a fixed amount in value, except upon additional compensation proportioned to the risk.

2. As a condition precedent to a contract for its transportation, they may require information from him as to its value, and demand extra compensation for any excess beyond that which he may reasonably demand to be transported as baggage under the contract to carry the person.

3. They may be discharged from liability for its full value if he, by any device or artifice, evades inquiry as to such value, whereby a responsibility is imposed upon them beyond what they are bound to assume in consideration of the ordinary fare charged for the transportation of the person.

4. In the absence of legislation or of special regulations by the carriers or of conduct by him misleading them as to such value, his failure to disclose it when no inquiry is made of him is not, in itself, a fraud upon them.

5. To the extent that articles taken by him for his personal use when traveling exceed in quantity and value such as are ordinarily or usually taken by passengers of like station and pursuing like journeys, they are not baggage for which the carriers are, by general law, responsible as insurers.

6. Whether he has taken such an excess of baggage is a question not of law for the sole or the final determination of the court, but of fact for the jury, under proper guidance as to the law of the case. Their determination of it upon the evidence -- no error of law appearing -- is not subject to reexamination here.

7. Sec. 4281, Rev.Stat., has no reference to the liability of carriers by land for the baggage of passengers.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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