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WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH COMPANY v. NESTER ET AL.

decided: April 22, 1940.

WESTERN UNION TELEGRAPH COMPANY
v.
NESTER ET AL.



CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.

Hughes, McReynolds, Stone, Roberts, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Murphy

Author: Mcreynolds

[ 309 U.S. Page 583]

 MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondents, Nester and Charles, are partners in mining operations near Aramecina, Republic of Honduras. September 1, 1937, at Los Angeles, California, petitioner, the Telegraph Company, in the ordinary course of business, received from Nester one hundred and fifty dollars for transmission by unrepeated message and delivery to Charles at Aramecina. It failed so to do.

In a "Complaint for damages for breach of duty" filed against petitioner in the District Court, Southern District, California, respondents claimed the failure to deliver resulted from gross negligence and that as a direct consequence they suffered specified losses amounting to $7,600. For that sum they asked judgment.

Petitioner denied liability and as an affirmative defense alleged --

"The money order referred to in the plaintiff's complaint was delivered to and accepted by the defendants subject to the terms of the standard money order contract of The Western Union Telegraph Company, a copy of which is hereto annexed."

[ 309 U.S. Page 584]

     It is not now denied that this standard form had been duly filed with the Federal Communications Commission and was treated by the parties as a statement of the contract between them. Certain of the conditions contained therein are printed below.*fn1

[ 309 U.S. Page 585]

     The point for determination here arises out of the following condition --

"In any event, the company shall not be liable for damages for delay, non-payment or underpayment of this money order, whether by reason of negligence on the part of its agents or servants or otherwise, beyond the sum of five hundred dollars, at which amount the right to have this money order promptly and correctly transmitted and promptly and fully paid is hereby valued, unless a greater value is stated in writing on the face of this ...


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