Friday, December 27, 2013

Chesapeake & Ohio Railway v. Martin case brief

Chesapeake & Ohio Railway v. Martin case brief summary
283 U.S. 209 (1931)

Petitioner railroad carrier sought review of the order of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia, which affirmed a trial court's judgment overruling the carrier's demurrer to petitioner consignor's action to recover damages for misdelivered goods.

The consignor discovered that the potatoes that it shipped via the railroad were misdelivered. Upon inspection, the consignor discovered that the potatoes were spoiled, sold them at a loss, and filed the instant action.


  • Upon review, the court reversed the judgments of the lower courts in favor of the consignor. 
  • First, the court noted that disputes concerning the interstate shipment of goods were to be determined under federal law. 
  • The parties' bill of lading provided that the consignor was to give notice of a claim for damages within six months, or within six months after a reasonable time for delivery had elapsed. 
  • The claim was made six months and 20 days after delivery. 
  • Uncontroverted testimony of the carrier's agent indicated that a reasonable time for delivery was about 48 hours. 
  • The court held that the trial court erred in refusing to submit the issue to the jury for a determination of whether the claim had been made within a reasonable time. 
  • The court further rejected the consignor's claim that a "failure of delivery" did not cover a misdelivery as occurred in this case.

The court reversed the lower courts' judgments.

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