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BOSTON & MAINE R. CO. V. HOOKER, 233 U. S. 97 (1914)

U.S. Supreme Court

Boston & Maine R. Co. v. Hooker, 233 U.S. 97 (1914)

Boston & Maine Railroad Company v. Hooker

No. 121

Argued December 10, 11, 1913

Decided April 6, 1914

233 U.S. 97


Congress, by the Hepburn Act and the Carmack Amendment in 1906, has regulated the subject of interstate transportation of property by federal law to the exclusion of the states to control it by their own policy or legislation. Pennsylvania v. Hughes, 191 U. S. 477, distinguished, having been decided prior to the passage of the Hepburn Act.

Page 233 U. S. 98

Knowledge of the shipper that the rate is based on value is to be presumed from the terms of the bill of lading and of the published schedules filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission, and the effect of so filing the schedules makes the published rates binding upon shipper and carrier alike.

The limitation of liability of carriers for passengers' baggage is covered by the Interstate Commerce Act and the Carmack Amendment to the Hepburn Act applies thereto as well as to liability for shipments of freight.

Under § 6 of the Interstate Commerce Act, carriers must include in the schedules of rates filed regulations affecting passengers' baggage and the limitations of liability.

A provision in a tariff schedule that the passenger must declare the value of his baggage and pay stated excess charges for excess liability over the stated value to be carried free is a regulation within the meaning of §§ 6 and 22 of the Interstate Commerce Act, and as such is sufficient to give the shipper notice of the limitation.

In construing a statute, the practical interpretation given to it by the administrative body charged with its enforcement is entitled to weight:

The effect of permitting the carrier to file regulations as to passengers' baggage which limit its liability except on payment of specified rates is not to change the common law rule that the carrier is an insurer against its own negligence, but simply that the carrier shall obtain commensurate compensation for the responsibility assumed.

Where charges for full liability as specified in the published tariff are unreasonable, they can only be attacked before the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Congress is familiar with the customs of travelers, including that of checking baggage, and so held that a baggage check is sufficient compliance as to passengers' baggage with the provision in the Carmack Amendment for issuing a receipt or bill of lading for the shipment.

If the subject needs regulation, it is within the power of the Interstate Commerce Commission, under §§ 1 and 15 of the Act of June 18, 1910, to make requirements as to checks or receipts to be given for baggage by common carriers.

209 Mass. 598 reversed.

The facts, which involve the construction of the Carmack

Page 233 U. S. 99

Amendment to the Hepburn Act and the right of a common carrier which has filed schedules containing regulations as to passengers' baggage to limit its liability for loss of such baggage caused by its own negligence to the extent and in the manner specified in the schedules, are stated in the opinion.

Page 233 U. S. 106

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