132 US 146 Boylan v. Hot Springs R Co

132 U.S. 146

10 S.Ct. 50

33 L.Ed. 290


November 11, 1889.

[Statement of Case from pages 146-148 intentionally omitted]

C. C. Bonney, for plaintiff in error.

G. W. Kretzinger, for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice GRAY, after stating the facts as above, delivered the opinion of the court.

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This is an action of assumpsit, and cannot be maintained without proof of a breach of contract by the defendant to carry the plaintiff. The only contract between the parties was an express one, signed by the plaintiff himself as well as by the defendant's agent at Chicago, and contained in a ticket for a passage to Hot Springs and back. The plaintiff, having assented to that contract by accepting and signing it, was bound by the conditions expressed in it, whether he did or did not read them or know what they were. The question, when he first knew that the ticket required him to have it stamped at Hot Springs, was therefore rightly excluded as immaterial.


By the express conditions of the plaintiff's contract, he had no right to a return passage under his ticket, unless it bore the signature and stamp of the defendant's agent at Hot Springs; and no agent or employe of the defendant was authorized to alter, modify, or waive any condition of the contract. Neither the action of the baggage-master in punching the ticket and checking the plaintiff's baggage, nor that of the gateman in admitting him to the train, therefore, could bind the defendant to carry him, or estop it to deny his right to be carried.


The plaintiff did not have his ticket stamped at Hot Springs, or make any attempt to do so, but insisted on the right to make the return trip under the unstamped ticket, and without paying further fare. As he absolutely declined to pay any such fare, the fact that the conductor did not inform him of its amount is immaterial. The unstamped ticket giving him no right to a return passage, and he not having paid, but absolutely refusing to pay, the usual fare, there was no contract in force between him and the defendant to carry him back from Hot Springs. There being no such contract in force, there could be no breach of it; and, no breach of contract being shown, this action of assumpsit, sounding in contract only, and not in tort, cannot be maintained to recover any damages, direct or consequential, for the plaintiff's expulsion from the defendant's train. The plaintiff, therefore, has not been prejudiced by the exclusion of the evidence concerning the circumstances attending his expulsion, and the consequent injuries to him or his business. The case is substantially governed by the judgment of this court in Mosher v. Railway Co., 127 U. S. 390, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1324, and our conclusion in the case at bar is in accord with the general current of decision in the courts of the several states. See, besides the cases cited at the end of that judgment, the following: Churchill v. Railroad Co., 67 Ill. 390; Petrie v. Railroad Co., 42 N. J. Law, 449; Pennington v. Railroad Co., 62 Md. 95; Rawitzky v. Railroad Co., 40 La. Ann. 47, 3 South. Rep. 387. Nor was anything inconsistent with this conclusion decided in either of the English cases relied on by the learned counsel for the plaintiff. Each of those cases turned upon the validity and effect of a by-law made by the railway company, not of a contract signed by the plaintiff, and otherwise essentially differed from the case at bar. In Jennings v. Railway Co., L. R. 1 Q. B. 7, the by-law required every passenger to obtain a ticket before entering the train, and to show and deliver up his ticket whenever demanded. The plaintiff took a ticket for himself, as well as tickets for three horses and three boys attending them, by a particular train, which was afterwards divided into two, in the first of which the plaintiff traveled, taking all the tickets with him; and when the second train was about to start the boys were asked to produce their tickets, and, being unable to do so, were prevented by the company's servants from proceeding with the horses. An action by the plaintiff against the company for not carrying his servants was sustained, because the company contracted with him only, and delivered all the tickets to him; and Lord Chief Justice COCKBURN, with whom the other judges concurred, said: 'It is unnecessary to determine whether, if the company had given the tickets to the boys, and the boys had not produced their tickets, it would have been competent for the company to have turned them out of the carriage.' In Butler v. Railway Co., L. R. 21 Q. B. Div. 207, the ticket referred to conditions published by the company, containing a similar by-law, which further provided that any passenger traveling without a ticket, or not showing or delivering it up when requested, should pay the fare from the station whence the train originally started. The plaintiff, having lost his ticket, was unable to produce it when demanded, and, refusing to pay such fare, was forcibly removed from the train by the defendant's servants. The court of appeal, reversing a judgment of the queen's bench division, held the company liable, because the plaintiff was lawfully on the train under a contract of the company to carry him, and no right to expel him forcibly could be inferred from the provisions of the by-law in question, requiring him to show his ticket or pay the fare; and each of the judges cautiously abstained from expressing a decided opinion upon the question whether a by-law could have been so framed as to justify the course taken by the company. Judgment affirmed.


Issued by Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway. Tourist special contract. Good for one first-class passage to Hot Springs, Ark., and return, when officially stamped on the back hereof, and presented with coupons attached. In consideration of the reduced rate at which this ticket is sold, I, the undersigned, agree to and with the several companies over whose lines this ticket entitles me to be carried, as follows, to-wit: (1) That in selling this ticket the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway Company acts as agent, and is not responsible beyond its own line. (2) That this ticket is not transferable, and no stop over at any intermediate point will be allowed, unless specially provided for by the local regulations of the lines over which it reads. (3) That any alteration whatever of this ticket renders it void. (4) That it is good for going passage only five (5) days from date of sale, as stamped on back, and written below. (5) That it 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 fifty-five (55) 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 (5) days from such date. (6) That I, the original purchaser, hereby agree to sign my name, and otherwise identify myself as such, whenever called upon to do so by any conductor or agent of the line or lines over which this ticket reads. (7) That baggage liability is limited to wearing appearel not exceeding $100 in value. (8) That the coupons belonging to this ticket will not be received for passage, if detached. (9) That my signature shall be in manuscript and in ink. (10) That unless all the conditions on this ticket are fully complied with it shall be void. (11) That I will not hold any of the lines named in this ticket liable for damages on account of any statement not in accordance with this contract made by any employe of said lines. (12) And it is especially agreed and understood by me that no agent or employe of any of the lines named in this ticket has any power to alter, modify, or waive in any manner any of the conditions named in this contract.

Signature: P. C. BOYLAN.

Witness: H. C. KEERAN.

Date of sale, March 18th, 1882.

GEO. H. DANIELS, Gen'l Ticket Agent.