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Amando Mirasol v The Robert Dollar Co.

FACTS:

Mirasol shipped a good order and condition two cases of books at New York, U.S.A., on
board the defendant's steamship President Garfield, for transport and delivery to Mirasol
in the City of Manila.

The two cases arrived in Manila in bad order and damaged condition, resulting in the
total loss of one case and a partial loss of the other.

Mirasol filed claims but defendant has refused and neglected to pay, reasoning that
damage in question "was caused by sea water." Defendant alleges that in the bill of
lading it was agreed that defendant should not be "held liable for any loss of, or damage
to, any of said merchandise resulting from Acts of God, perils of the sea or other waters.

Plaintiff contends that he never entered into any contract with the defendant limiting
defendant's liability as a common carrier and never intended to ratify or confirm any
agreement to limit the liability of the defendant.

ISSUE: W/n defendant carrier can escape liability for the damage of the merchandise
shipped by Mirasol

RULING: NO

Where it appears in the bill of lading issued to a shipper a clause limiting the carrier’s
liability, printed in fine letters, but the same was, however, not signed by the shipper as
he was not advised of the contents of the same, the shipper is not bound thereof. The
stipulation is void as it is against public policy, and the plaintiff was not legally bound by
the clause limiting the carrier’s liability.

As to when and how goods were delivered in transit is a matter peculiarly within the
knowledge of the carrier and its employees. To require the plaintiff to prove as to when
and how the damage was done would force him to rely upon the employment of
defendant carrier which in legal effect would be to say that he cannot recover for any
reason.

• There is no claim or pretense that Mirasol signed the bill of lading or that he knew
of its contents at the time that it was issued. In that situation he was not legally
bound by the clause which purports to limit defendant's liability.
• The two cases were in good condition when they were delivered to the carrier
• During the delivery to Manila, the cases were under the control and supervision
of the carrier and admittedly, the cases were damaged while in transit.
• The fact that the cases were damaged by "sea water," standing alone and within
itself, is not evidence that they were damaged by force majeure or for a cause
beyond the defendant's control