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U.S. Supreme Court

Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Ry. Co. v. Wallace, 223 U.S. 481 (1912)

Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio

Railway Company v. Wallace

Nos. 108, 109

Submitted December 15, 1911

Decided February 19, 1912

223 U.S. 481


Damages caused by failure to deliver goods is not traceable to a violation of the Interstate Commerce Law, and is not within the provisions of §§ 8 and 9 of the act; the jurisdiction of the Commission and the United States courts is not exclusive. Texas & Pacific Railway v. Abilene Cotton Oil Co., 204 U. S. 426, distinguished.

While statutes have no extraterritorial operation and courts of one government cannot enforce the penal laws of another, state courts have jurisdiction of civil and transitory actions created by a foreign statute, provided it is not of a character opposed to the public policy of the state in which it is brought.

Jurisdiction is not defeated by implication, and there is no presumption that Congress intends to prevent state courts from exercising jurisdiction already possessed by them, and under which they have power to hear and determine causes of action created by federal statute. Robb v. Connolly, 111 U. S. 637.

When a federal statute creating an action, such as the Carmack Amendment, is silent on the subject of jurisdiction, the presumption is that the action may be asserted in a state, as well as in a federal, court.

The Carmack Amendment to the Hepburn Act of June 29, 1906, 34 Stat. 584, 595, c. 3591, is not unconstitutional. Atlantic Coast Lin v. Riverside Mills, 219 U. S. 186.

Quaere, and not determinable in this action, as the carrier failed to plead or prove the cause of nondelivery, whether the Carmack Amendment makes the initial carrier an insurer, or deprives it of the right to contract with the shipper against liability for damages not caused by its own or the connecting carrier's negligence.

Under the Carmack Amendment, wherever the carrier voluntarily accepts goods for shipment to a point on another line in another chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 223 U. S. 482

state, it is conclusively treated as having made a through contract, Atlantic Coast Line v. Riverside Mills, 219 U. S. 186; it thereby elects to treat connecting carriers as its agents, and the presumptions are that, if goods are lost, the loss results from the negligence of itself or of its agents.

Under the Carmack Amendment, when a carrier accepts goods for shipment to a point on another line in another state, the burden of proof falls on it as the initial carrier to prove that the loss has not resulted from some cause for which it is in law or by contract responsible.

The facts, which involve the liability of an initial common carrier for nondelivery of goods by the connecting carrier, are stated in the opinion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 223 U. S. 488

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