ERROR TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF MARYLAND.
MR. JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the court.
On May 26, 1910, The Peninsula Produce Exchange of Maryland delivered to the New York, Philadelphia & Norfolk Railroad Company at Marion, Maryland, a carload of strawberries for transportation to New York City. The conditions of the transportation were set forth in the bill of lading issued by the railroad company. The property was delivered at destination some hours later than the customery time of arrival and this action was brought to recover damages for the failure to transport and deliver with reasonable despatch. Judgment in favor of the shipper was affirmed by the Court of Appeals of Maryland. 122 Maryland, 215.
The plaintiff in error, in its brief, states that "the questions involved are two," --
"1. Does the Carmack Amendment impose on the 'initial carrier' liability for delay occurring on the line of its connection without physical damage to the property?
"2. Was the plaintiff entitled to recover because its shipment failed to arrive in time for the market of May 28th, when the regulations under which the shipment moved were published in tariffs duly on file with the Interstate Commerce Commission, and specifically provided: 'No carrier is bound to transport said property by any particular train or vessel, or in time for any particular market, or otherwise than with reasonable despatch, unless by specific agreement endorsed hereon'?"
The first question, arising from the fact that it did not appear that the delay occurred on the line of the initial
carrier (the defendant) was raised by an unsuccessful demurrer to the declaration, and both questions were presented by prayers for instructions which were denied.
The amendment of § 20 of the Interstate Commerce Act, known as the Carmack Amendment (Act of June 29, 1906, c. 3591, § 7, 34 Stat. 584, 595), provides "that any common carrier . . . receiving property for transportation from a point in one State to a point in another State shall issue a receipt or bill of lading therefor and shall be liable to the lawful holder thereof for any loss, damage, or injury to such property caused by it or by any common carrier . . . to which such property may be delivered or over whose line or lines such property may pass, and no contract, receipt, rule, or regulation shall exempt such common carrier . . . from the liability hereby imposed."
We need not review at length the considerations which led to the adoption of this amendment. These were stated in Atlantic Coast Line v. Riverside Mills, 219 U.S. 186, 199-203. It was there pointed out that along with singleness of rate and continuity of carriage in through shipments there had grown up the practice of requiring specific stipulations limiting the liability of each separate company to its own part of the through route, and, as a result, the shipper could look to the initial carrier for recompense only "for loss, damage or delay" occurring on its own line. This "burdensome situation" was "the matter which Congress undertook to regulate." And it was concluded that the requirement that interstate carriers holding themselves out as receiving packages for destinations beyond their own terminal should be compelled "as a condition of continuing in that traffic to obligate themselves to arry to the point of destination, using the lines of connecting carriers as their own agencies," was within the power of Congress. The rule, said the court in defining the purpose of the Carmack Amendment, "is adapted to
secure the rights of the shipper by securing unity of transportation with unity of responsibility." And, again, we said in Adams Express Company v. Croninger, 226 U.S. 491, that this legislation embraces "the subject of the liability of the carrier under a bill of lading which he must issue." -- "The duty to issue a bill of lading and the liability thereby assumed are covered in full, and though there is no reference to the effect upon state regulation, it is evident that Congress intended to ...