This section is from the book "Popular Law Library Vol4 Torts, Damages, Domestic Relations", by Albert H. Putney. Also available from Amazon: Popular Law-Dictionary.
Telegraphic companies in the absence of a special contract are liable for all damages resulting as the natural result of delay or mistake in transmitting a message.
Thus in the case of Bartlett vs. Western Union Telegraph Co.,13 a despatch was left by the plaintiff with the defendant to be sent to Chicago directing the purchase of 10,000 bushels of corn. As transmitted the message directed the purchase of 1,000 bushels.
11 Sedgwick on Damages, p. 306. 12 129 Mass., 146.
13 62 Me., 209.
The mistake being discovered, the balance of 9,000 bushels was purchased by the plaintiff but at ten cents more per bushel than he could have bought for at the time of the delivery of the original despatch. Damages ere awarded for $900 and interest.
The mental suffering of the plaintiff, caused by the delay or failure to receive the message, may be an element in determining the award of damages.
A telegraph company may make reasonable regulations and it is generally provided that unless a message is repeated,14 the company is liable only to an amount equal to the cost of the message.