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RHOADES, INC. v. UNITED AIR LINES

December 12, 1963

RHOADES, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED AIR LINES, INC., Defendant, v. PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD COMPANY, Third-Party Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROSENBERG

The parties to this action have presented motions, after jury determination, which can be disposed of here together.

On October 6, 1961, the plaintiff, Rhoades, Incorporated, brought an action against the defendant, United Air Lines, Inc., to recover damages for an airboat destroyed in transit.

 Its airboat was a motorized, bicycle-like device which generated air under a large bowl-like skirt. The air escaped from beneath the rim of the bowl-like covering, thus causing the entire device to remain suspended or lifted several inches above the ground. The operator by directional leaning caused it to move and turn as he chose. The airboat was built by the plaintiff.

 There was no showing of any useful purpose. Neither was there any showing of marketability. However, there was a showing that the airboat was used for demonstrations both in this country and abroad. In fact, it was after it had been demonstrated in Los Angeles, California, that the airboat was shipped to Pittsburgh by way of defendant carrier and transferred by the defendant to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the third-party defendant, for the final leg of its transportation from Cleveland to Pittsburgh.

 The plaintiff received no shipment receipt at Los Angeles but asserted that it had declared the value of the airboat as $ 15,000. United denied this and maintained it was shipped without any declaration and at its minimum charge for which its liability limit under defendant's air bill of lading was $ 1080.00. The plaintiff contended that the airboat was in good condition when shipped, and that when called by Pennsylvania Railroad to arrange to receive the airboat at Irwin, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, it was damaged.

 United presented evidence that it was in good condition when the airboat was turned over to the Pennsylvania Railroad at Cleveland. Pennsylvania Railroad presented evidence that it was damaged when it was received at Cleveland.

 The jury was presented, and it answered, four interrogatories as follows:

 'Interrogatory No. 1. Did the defendant, United Air Lines, at Los Angeles, California accept plaintiff, Rhoades, Inc., airboat for shipment to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania without at that time and place issuing a receipt air bill or bill of lading to the plaintiff for such airboat shipment?

 The answer: Yes.

 'Interrogatory No. 2. State the amount of total damages caused to the airboat while in transit from Los Angeles, California to Irwin, Pennsylvania.

 The answer: $ 7500.

 'Interrogatory No. 3. State the amount of money damage the plaintiff, Rhoades, Inc., is entitled to from the defendant, United Air Lines.

 The answer: $ 7500.

 'Interrogatory No. 4. State the amount of money damages the defendant and third-party plaintiff, United Air Lines, is entitled to, if any, from the third-party ...


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