did, defendant, Weaver Warehouses, Inc., breached its trust as a warehouseman and became liable under the theory of absolute liability notwithstanding that no act of negligence on its part contributed to the loss. The question of negligence is simply not in this case.
Defendants argue that while the warehouse receipt here contained a description of a warehouse location which appears definite on its face, it became indefinite when related to the facilities described in that it covered only a small portion thereof as brought out in plaintiff's case, therefore defendants should be allowed to introduce evidence explaining the latent ambiguity in description. The Court felt otherwise and refused defendants the right to introduce parol evidence that the goods could be stored at a place other than at No. 437. I adhere to that ruling.
The proposition posed by defendants only tells a part of the story. Under the undisputed testimony of plaintiff's witnesses there is no possibility of an ambiguity in the terms of the receipt. There was a building at No. 437 South Second Street, and that address is a specific street address in the City of Harrisburg. It was the only storage facility shown plaintiff's inspectors. It may well be that No. 437 is the hub of a group of buildings and that mail addressed to defendants would be delivered there. The fact still remains that that number is the location of a fireproof storage facility in which plaintiff's inspectors were led to believe plaintiff's goods would be stored. Under the facts of this case there certainly was no latent ambiguity in the wording of the receipt. There is therefore no point in considering the authorities on the question of the right to introduce parol evidence to explain such nonexistent latent ambiguity.
Alternative Motion for a New Trial
Defendants assigned fourteen reasons in support of this phase of the motion. Reasons Nos. 1 to 13 inclusive, contain the customary pro forma grounds, insufficiency of evidence to support the directed verdict, error of the Court in refusing to permit defendants' witnesses to testify relating to circumstances surrounding the issuance of the receipt, as to defendants' relationship with plaintiff's agent and United States Government concerning matters of storage, and further errors in relation to the rejection of testimony.
The evidence introduced by the plaintiff as above set forth was overwhelming and uncontradicted. The reasons assigned are all concerned with attempts. to vary, explain or contradict the plain, concise, unambiguous language of the contract between the parties and certainly call for no resort to the parol evidence rule.
As to the amount of the verdict, the testimony speaks for itself. At the conclusion of the case there appears the following colloquy (Transcript of Trial Record, page 286):
'Mr. Wickersham: In this case, Your Honor, the testimony is that the amount is $ 14,608. There is a matter of interest for three years, ten months, and five days, which is equivalent to $ 3,371.99, which makes a total of $ 17,979.99. Now, Mr. Young has very properly raised this issue. If you wish to agree with us, Mr. Young, to let the jury return an award of $ 14,608, we will waive the interest which is more than equivalent to the difference of figures testified to.
'Mr. Young: I will agree.
'The Court: You agree with that?
'Mr. Young: Yes.
'The Court: You have got yourself technically on the record.'
Finally, in Reason No. 14 defendants claim that the Court erred in failing to apply the limitation of value provisions of the warehouse receipt when directing the jury to return a verdict for the plaintiff.
The limitation of liability clause in the receipt is as follows:
'7 The above named Depositor declares that the value of any article, piece or package including the contents thereof, packed, handled, carted or stored in this lot, or later received for the account of same Depositor, does not exceed the sum of Thirty Cents (30 cents) per lb., upon which valuation the rate is based, and the liability of the Company for any causes which would make it liable in case of loss or damage, while goods are in its possession, shall not exceed the sum so declared unless the owner or representative fixes a greater value and agrees to pay an additional charge of 25 cents per One Hundred Dollars ($ 100.00), per month thereon.'
This matter was well covered in Barrett v. Freed, supra, as follows:
'* * * Can Barrett, notwithstanding his unauthorized removal of the goods, rely on a condition of his receipt limiting his liability? * * *.
'* * * Having agreed to keep the property at a specified place and having breached his contract in that respect, he cannot fall back upon another condition of his contract relieving him from liability.
'Appellant further relies upon a condition of the warehouse receipt limiting his liability to $ 50 for each package and the contents thereof, and complains that a larger sum was allowed for a cedar chest and its contents. For the same reason that appellant cannot rely upon the condition of no liability on account of fire he cannot rely upon the condition limiting the amount of his liability. One cannot deliberately breach a provision of a contract and rely upon another provision of the contract in an action against him for such breach. In Fidelity Storage Co. v. Kingsbury, 65 App.D.C. 69, 79 F.2d 705, 706, speaking of a similar limitation in a warehouse receipt, the court said: 'It is well settled that a bailee may limit his liability for goods deposited with him, except for gross negligence, willful act or fraud.' (Emphasis supplied.)
'The removal of the goods from the designated place of storage was a willful act on the part of Barrett. * * *'
In the instant case, the storage of plaintiff's goods in a place other than that designated in the warehouse receipt was a willful act on the part of the defendants, and having deliberately breached a most vital provision of the contract, they cannot now rely upon another provision of the contract to mitigate their responsibility to plaintiff.
Defendants' motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or in the alternative for a new trial will be denied.