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decided: December 17, 1900.



Author: White

[ 179 U.S. Page 422]

 MR. JUSTICE WHITE, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court.

A solution of the issues which arise on this record involves only an analysis of the facts for the purpose of ascertaining the true inferences to be drawn therefrom. In the statement of the case which we have just made we have given an outline of the origin of the controversy and have referred to the facts only so far as essential to elucidate the pleadings. We propose now to review the facts upon which the controversy turns. The testimony to which we shall refer in doing so is contained in the record of the case of Jacob Rau number 13 of this term, as in taking the appeals, following the course adopted by the master in making his report, the testimony as to all the interventions was brought up in that case only, and as found in that record has been treated in the argument as applicable to all the interventions.

The Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis, which will be hereafter, for brevity, styled the Terminal Association, possessed in the city of East St. Louis extensive tracks, yards and facilities for the purpose of successfully carrying on the railroad traffic which came to that point. It was connected with and operated lines of railroad running across two bridges, leading to St. Louis, Missouri, and had many transfer tracks in its railroad yards, which were connected not only with its St. Louis tracks, but with the lines of various railroads which reached East St. Louis from different points. The Terminal Association, therefore, controlled the transfer of railroad business arriving at East St. Louis for St. Louis, and from St. Louis to East St Louis, thence to other points, except to the extent that both of these classes of business were competed for by the Wiggins Ferry Company, a corporation owning and operating a transfer ferry between East St. Louis and St. Louis, which latter company also possessed terminal facilities in East St. Louis.

The Chicago. Peoria and St. Louis Railway, which we shall

[ 179 U.S. Page 423]

     hereafter for brevity refer to as the Peoria Company, even when considering the acts of the receiver of that company, operated a line of railroad between Peoria, Illinois, and East St. Louis, in the same State. It commenced business at East St. Louis about January, 1891. The terminus of its main tracks to the latter place was at a point termed Bridge Junction, at a street known as Stockyards Avenue, which was either beyond the city limits, or, if within the city limits, was on the outskirts thereof. At the point where the track of the Peoria Company thus terminated, that road possessed no terminal facilities of any kind for the handling of its freight business. It had no warehouses, no side tracks, no switch engines and no conveniences for the switching or handling of its freight trains. The road therefore was in a position where it was practically impossible for it to handle freight destined for East St. Louis or for carriage beyond that point, and in order to enable it to discharge its duty as a common carrier as to any such business it was absolutely necessary for it to make some arrangement for that purpose. It is true that the Peoria Company had a small freight house on the river front, with one or more side tracks adjacent thereto, which were utilized for the loading and unloading of local freight. But neither this freight house nor the tracks in question were directly connected with the main tracks of the road. To make such connection it was essential there fore for the Peoria Company to use the tracks of some other railroad.

The Peoria Company thus being substantially without any terminal facilities whatever for freight business at East St. Louis, that company as early as June 1, 1891, entered into an agreement with the Terminal Association to supply such deficiency. In August, 1892, the agreement made in 1891 was modified, and governed the relations of the parties when the fire took place. A copy of this agreement is in the margin.*fn1

[ 179 U.S. Page 424]

     Under this agreement, the incoming freight trains arriving at the terminus of the main track of the Peoria road as above stated were handled substantially as follows:

The Peoria train was stopped on a Y track. There the Peoria

[ 179 U.S. Page 425]

     engine was detached and was placed on a stub track reserved for the purpose. A switch engine of the Terminal Association then took hold, broke up the train and distributed the cars on the tracks set apart for the Peoria Company under the agreement.

The evidence shows that the place assigned for the use of the Peoria Company by the Terminal Association, in compliance with the contract, was a particular portion of the yard of the latter corporation viz., eleven tracks, numbered from 40 to 50, and that these tracks were commonly used for such purpose. This latter fact was expressly admitted by the receiver in a stipulation made during the taking of testimony before the master on the interventions, in subdivision numbered 2 of which it was agreed that the cars and other property were damaged by the fire in question "while on the tracks of the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis in its yard at East St. Louis, commonly used by the receiver herein under the agreement between said association and the Chicago, Peoria and St. Louis Railway Company, dated August 1, 1892." Though the stipulation referred to was amended in January, 1896, on motion of the receiver, by the elimination of certain admissions contained therein, which it was asserted had been discovered to be incorrect, no attempt was made to seek a correction of the stipulation so far as respected the use of the deposit tracks.

Besides the freight trains coming into East St. Louis from the main track of the Peoria road, as above stated, they were brought to the aforesaid deposit tracks the empty as well as

[ 179 U.S. Page 426]

     the loaded cars of the Peoria road, coming from the freight house above referred to, and also the loaded or empty cars destined for the Peoria Company from other points and coming into East St. Louis over any other road connecting with the Terminal Association. On the tracks to which all these cars were taken substantially, therefore, all the freight business of the Peoria Company, whether it arose from dealings with the Terminal Association or with any other railroad corporation was carried on, and there all the outgoing freight trains of the Peoria Company were made up. It followed also that the freight cars of the Peoria Company, whether inbound or outbound, whether destined to be carried to some ultimate point by the Terminal Association or intended for delivery by that association if carried over other roads, remained upon the tracks set apart in the yard of the Peoria Company until all such purposes could be accomplished. In other words, under the agreement, all the ingoing and outgoing terminal freight business of the Peoria Company was in effect ultimately handled by the Terminal Association, and the yard in question, as far as set apart, was necessarily a yard for the transaction of every variety of the freight business of the Peoria Company.

The tracks thus set apart under the agreement -- that is, tracks numbered from 40 to 50 -- were capable of holding two hundred cars, whilst under the contract the Peoria road was entitled to storage room for but one hundred and fifty cars. The evidence disclosed that the Terminal Association, whenever if found it convenient to do so, utilized the surplus space for the deposit of cars not belonging to the Peoria Company. The receiver of the Peoria road and his employes (such as the local agent at East St. Louis and his assistants, car inspectors, car repairers, etc.) had access to the deposit tracks. A car used as a work shop by the car repairers of the Peoria Company was placed near to said tracks. The consignees had also ready access to the cars placed on such tracks. Over a portion of the deposit tracks -- that is, numbers 42 and 43 -- passed a structure known as the transfer warehouse, a building some six hundred feet in length. On the night of the fire and some time prior thereto, this transfer warehouse was being used by a St. Louis corporation, under leave of

[ 179 U.S. Page 427]

     the Terminal Association, for the storage of loose and baled hay.

Such being the relations between the Peoria Company and the Terminal Association, we are brought to consider the particular shipments which give rise to the controversy in this case.

In September and October, 1894, by three distinct transactions evidenced by telegrams and letters, the Huntting Elevator Company, of McGregor, Iowa, sold to the Teichman Commission Company, of St. Louis, a large quantity of barley. Respecting the first purchase, the commission company, on September 15, 1894, wrote from St. Louis to the Huntting Company: "We have your telegram accepting our bid of 56c. net for 25,000 bushels sample barley, to be shipped to us here via East St. Louis." Five days later the Huntting Company telegraphed to the commission company as follows: "We have yours of the 19th; please wire us best offer on 10,000 or 20,000 of our No. 3 sample barley delivered St. Louis." On November 1, 1894, the commission company telegraphed: "Sold twenty thousand No. 3 fifty-four net via East St. Louis," and confirmed the telegram by a letter which read in part as follows: "We wired you sale to-day of 20,000 bus. your No. 3 barley at 54c. net here, to be shipped via East St. Louis." The third sale was effected on October 10, 1894, in the following manner: After a telegraphic offer of "fifty-five net five thousand McNalley sample" had been declined, the commission company telegraphed, "Bid fifty-six net, leaving small margin, shipment via East St. Louis." The Huntting Company replied: "Accept five thousand Lime Spring barley." The barley was delivered to the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Company -- three cars at Lime Spring, Iowa, and seven cars at Prairie du Chien, Iowa. The freight was prepaid by the elevator company, and instructions were given to the agent of the Milwaukee company to forward the cars to the commission company at St. Louis, via East St. Louis.

At the time of the shipment in question no receipts were issued by the initial carrier to the shipper for the cars of barley so delivered. It is shown, however, that it was the invariable

[ 179 U.S. Page 428]

     custom of the agent of the railway company to fill out the blanks contained in a printed form of way bill, the pertinent portion of which form is inserted in the margin.*fn1a

A completed way bill accompanied each car, and in the case of barley consigned to a commission company in St. Louis, it would be recited that the car was "from" the named place of shipment "to East St. Louis," while in the column headed "Consignee and Destination" would be inserted the name of the consignee and the address "St. Louis, Missouri." And the testimony leaves no doubt that a way bill conformably to ...

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