This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
In other jurisdictions the minority view is entertained and it is held that the terms of a written contract offered by a common carrier whereby it attempts to limit or avoid its common-law liability, are not binding upon the offeree unless they are expressly communicated to him.1 Where this principle applies such terms in a bill of lading are held not to be a part of the contract,
38 Stoner v. Ry., 109 la. 551, 80 N. W. 569. "Assent of the plaintiff to the alleged change can not be inferred from his acceptance of the folded writing, the contents of which he did not know and of which he was not informed": Stonor v. Ry., 109 la. 551, 80 N. W. 569 [citing Strohm v. Ry., 21 Wis. 554, 94 Am. Dec. 564; Gulf, etc., Ry. v. Wood (Tex. Civ. App.), 30 S. W. 715; King v. Woodridge, 34 Vt. 564].
39 Hill v. Adams Express Co., 82 N. J. L. 373, 81 Atl. 859 [overruling on this point, as far as necessary, Saunders v. Adams Express Co., 76 N. J. L. 228, 69 Atl. 206; and Florman v. Dodds & Child Express Co., 79 N. J. L. 63, 74 Atl. 446. See, however, Wichern v. United States Express Co., 83 N. J. L. 241, 83 Atl. 776, which explains Hill v. Adams Express Co., 82 N. J. L. 373, 81 Atl. 859, as holding that the burden of proof is upon the carrier]; Dillard v. L & N.R. R. Co., 70 Tenn. (2 Lea) 288.
40 Wells v. Neiman-Marcus Co., 227 U, S. 469, 57 L. ed. 600; Atlantic Coast unless they are communicated expressly to the adversary party.2 "Where a contract limiting the liability of the carrier is contained in a bill of lading which in its entirety constitutes both a receipt and a contract, the onus is on the carrier to show the restrictions of the common-law liability were assented to by the consignor."3 If the instrument does not appear upon its face to be contractual in character, but to be a receipt or voucher, such as a receipt for goods,4 or a baggage receipt,5 or a passenger ticket which is in the form of a voucher,6 there is more authority for holding that such terms are not a part of the contract unless they are actually communicated to the offeree than there is in case of instruments which appear upon their face to be contractual in their character, such as bills of lading or tickets in contract form. Furthermore, tickets are usually bought in haste, and the oral contract is made before the ticket is handed to passenger; two circumstances which prevent such terms from being a part of the contract.7
Line Ry. Co. v. Hinely-Stephens Co., 64 Fla. 175, Ann. Cas. 1914B, 999, 60 So. 749; Singer v. Merchants' Despatch Transportation Co., 191 Mass. 449, 114 Am. St. Rep. 635, 77 N. E. 882.
1 Scotland. Williamson v. North of Scotland and Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Co., (1916) S. C. 554; (1916-1) S. L. T. 228; Railroad Co. v. Mfg. Co., 83 U. S. (16 Wall.) 318, 21 L. ed. 297; The Majestic, 166 U. S. 375, 41 L. ed. 1039; Wiegand v. Ry., 75 Fed. 370; Boyd v. Spencer, 103 Ga. 828, 68 Am. St. Rep. 146, 30 S. E. 841; Erie, etc., Co. v. Dater, 91 111. 195, 33 Am. Rep. 51; Chicago, etc., Ry. v. Davis, 159 111. 53, 50 Am. St. Rep. 143, 42 N. E. 382; Chicago, etc., Ry. v. Simon, 160 111. 648, 43 N. E. 596; Illinois Central Ry. v. Carter, 165 111. 570, 36 L. R. A. 527, 46 N. E. 374 [reversing 62 111. App. 618]; Illinois Central Ry. v. Beebe, 174 111. 13, 66 Am. St. Rep. 253, 43 L. R. A. 210, 50 N. E. 1019 [affirming 69 111. App. 363]; Chicago, etc., Ry. v. Stock Farm, 194 111. 9, 88 Am. St. Rep. 68, 61 N. E.
1095; Wabash Railroad Co. v. Thomas, 222 111. 337, 7 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1041, 78 N. E. 777.
Kansas. Kansas City, etc., R. R. v. Rodebaugh, 38 Kan. 45, 5 Am. St. Rep. 715, 15 Ac. 899.
Mississippi. Newberger Cotton Co. v. Ry., 75 Miss. 303, 23 So. 186.
New Jersey. Wichern v. Unite I States Express Co., 83 N. J. L. 241, 83 Atl. 776. [This case purports to follow Hill v. Adams Express Co., 82 N. J. L. 373, 81 Atl. 859, which, however, merely decides that the presumption of acquiescence in the terms of the contract which is created by the acceptance of the bill of lading without objection, may be rebutted].
New York. Hutchins v. Pennsylvania R. R. Co., 181 N. Y. 186, 106 Am. St. Rep. 537, 73 N. E. 972.
North Carolina. Gardner v. Ry., 127 N. Car. 293, 37 S. E. 328.
South Carolina. Norman v. Ry., 05 S. Car. 517, 95 Am. St. Rep. 809, 44 S. E. 83; Southern Ry. Co. v. Kimball, 103 S. Car. 365, 88 S. E. 14.
Tennessee. Louisville, etc., Ry. v. Turner, 100 Tenn. 213, 43 L. R. A. 140, 47 S. W. 223.
So under Sec. 2068 of the Georgia Code: Wood v. Express Co., 95 Ga. 451, 22 S. E. 535.
2 Hill v. Adams Express Co., 82 N. J. L. 373, 81 Atl. 859 [affirming Hill v. Adams Express Co., 80 N. J. L. 604, 77 Atl. 1073; Wichern v. United States Express Co., 83 N. J. L. 241, 83 Atl. 776; Benson v. Oregon Short Line Ry., 35 Utah 241, 136 Am. St. Rep. 1052, 19 Am. & Eng. Ann. Cas. 803, 99 Ac. 1073.
3 Chicago, etc., Ry. v. Simon, 160 111. 648, 43 N. E. 596 [quoted in Chicago, etc., Ry. v. Stock Farm, 194 III. 9, 88 Am. St. Rep. 68, 61 N. E. 1095]; so Illinois Central Ry. v. Carter, 165 111. 570, 36 L. R. A. 527, 46 N. E. 374.
4 Adams Express Co. v. Hoeing, 88 Ky. 373, 11 S. W. 205; Wichern v. United States Express Co., 83 N. J-. L. 241, 83 Atl. 776; Southern Ry. Co. v. Kimball, 103 S. Car. 365, 88 S. E. 14.
5 Morgan v. Woolverton, 203 N. Y. 52, 36 L. R. A. (N.S.) 640, 96 N. E. 354.
6 Richardson v. Rowntree (1894), A. C. 217; Henderson v. Stevenson, L. R. 2 H. L. Scotch App. 470; Norman v. East Carolina Ry., 161 N. Car. 330, Ann. Cas. 1914D, 917, 77 S. E. 345.
In general it may be deduced from the cases last cited, that if the instrument offered by the carrier is understood to be a receipt, a check, or a voucher, the party receiving it is not bound by terms not called to his attention; while if he understands it to be a contract he is bound to use reasonable care to ascertain, the terms thereof. A class of cases similar to these arises where by mistake, misrepresentation, or fraud, A is induced to enter into a written contract which contains terms of which he is not informed. A discussion of A's liability is given under the titles of fraud, misrepresentation and mistake.8 A is usually held not liable if he is free form negligence and has not estopped himself from showing that he did not know the terms of the contract; but if he knew or by reasonable effort might know the contents of the contract he is liable, except in the case of fraud or misrepresentation.