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MOSHER v. ST. LOUIS

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


decided: May 14, 1888.

MOSHER
v.
ST. LOUIS, IRON MOUNTAIN AND SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY.

ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI.

Author: Gray

[ 127 U.S. Page 393]

 MR. JUSTICE GRAY, after stating the case as above reported, delivered the opinion of the court.

The right of this plaintiff to be carried upon the defendant's train, without paying additional fare, does not depend upon

[ 127 U.S. Page 394]

     his having been received as an ordinary passenger, or upon any representations made by a ticket-seller, conductor or other officer of the company as to his right to use a ticket, but wholly upon the construction and effect of the written contract, signed by him, upon the face of the ticket (of the kind called "tourist's" or "round-trip" tickets) sold him by the defendant for a passage to Hot Springs and back, by which, in consideration of a reduced rate of fare, he agreed to the following terms:

By the fifth condition, the ticket "is not good for return passage unless the holder identifies himself as the original purchaser to the satisfaction of the authorized agent of the Hot Springs Railroad at Hot Springs, Ark., within eighty-five days from date of sale, and when officially signed and dated in ink and duly stamped by said agent this ticket shall then be good only five days from such date."

The clear meaning of this condition is that the ticket shall not be good for a return passage at all, unless, within eighty-five days from its original date, the holder not only identifies himself as the original purchaser to the satisfaction of the agent named, but that agent signs, dates and stamps the ticket; and that, upon such identification and stamping, the ticket shall be good for five days from the new date.

The sixth condition, by which the ticket is to be void if the plaintiff does not sign his name and otherwise identify himself, whenever calle dupon so to do by any conductor or agent of either of the lines over which he may pass, is evidently intended as an additional precaution against a transfer of the ticket either in going or in returning, and not as an alternative or substitute for the previous condition to the validity of the ticket for a return trip.

The twelfth condition states that the plaintiff understands and expressly agrees that no agent or employe of any of the lines has any power to alter, modify, or waive any of the conditions of the contract.

By the express contract between the parties, therefore, the plaintiff had no right to a return passage under the ticket, unless it bore the stamp of the agent at Hot Springs. Such a

[ 127 U.S. Page 395]

     stamp was made by the contract a condition precedent to the right to a return passage, and no agent or employe of the defendant was authorized to waive that condition.

The plaintiff contends that, as there was no agent at the office at Hot Springs, to whose satisfaction he could identify himself, and by whom he could have his ticket stamped, when he presented himself with his ticket at that office, within a reasonable time before he took the return train, he had the right to be carried from Hot Springs to St. Louis under his ticket, without having it stamped, and may therefore maintain this action against the defendant for the act of its conductor in expelling him from the connecting train upon the defendant's road.

If this defendant had been the party responsible for not having an agent at Hot Springs, the question thus presented would have been of some difficulty, although we are not prepared to hold that, even under such circumstances, the plaintiff's remedy would not be limited to an action for the breach of the implied contract to have an agent there, and to the expense which he thereby incurred. But this case does not require the expression of any opinion upon that question.

By the first condition of the contract contained in the plaintiff's ticket, the defendant is not responsible beyond its own line. Consequently it was not responsible to the plaintiff for failing to have an gent at the further end of the Hot Springs Railroad. The agent who was to identify the passenger and stamp his ticket there was the agent of the Hot Springs Railroad Company, and is so described in the ticket, as well as in the petition. If there was any duty to have an agent at Hot Springs, it was the duty of that company, and not of the defendant. The demurrer admits only the facts alleged, and does not admit the conclusion of law, inserted in the petition, that by reason of the facts previously set forth, and which do not support the conclusion, the defendant and its agent failed and refused, without just cause or excuse, to identify the plaintiff as the original purchaser of the ticket, or to sign, date and stamp it. Hitchcock v. Buchanan, 105 U.S. 416.

The omission to have an agent at Hot Springs not being a

[ 127 U.S. Page 396]

     breach of contract or of duty on the part of this defendant, the case is relieved of all difficulty.

The conductor of the defendant's train, upon the plaintiff's presenting a ticket bearing no stamp of the agent at Hot Springs, had no authority to waive any condition of the contract, to dispense with the want of such stamp, to inquire into the previous circumstances, or to permit him to travel on the train. It would be inconsistent alike with the express terms of the contract of the parties, and with the proper performance of the duties of the conductor, in examining the tickets of other passengers, and in conducting his train with due regard to speed and safety, that he should undertake to determine, from oral statements of the passenger or other evidence, facts alleged to have taken place before the beginning of the return trip, and as to which the contract on the face of the ticket made the stamp of the agent of the Hot Springs Railroad Company at Hot Springs the only and conclusive proof.

The necessary conclusion is that the plaintiff cannot maintain this action against the defendant for the act of its conductor in putting him off the train. Townshend v. New York Central Railroad, 56 N.Y. 295; Shelton v. Lake Shore Railway, 29 Ohio St. 214; Frederick v. Marquette &c. Railroad, 37 Michigan, 342; Bradshaw v. South Boston Railroad, 135 Mass. 407; Murdock v. Boston & Albany Railroad, 137 Mass. 293, 299; Louisville & Nashville Railroad v. Fleming, 14 Lea (Tenn.), 128.

Judgment affirmed.

18880514

© 1998 VersusLaw Inc.



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