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Mirasol v.

Dollar Johns, J (1929) Nature: Appeal from the judgement of the lower court Parties: Amando Mirasol, plaintiff-appellant The Robert Dollar Co., defendant-appellant Facts: Plaintiff 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 the plaintiff 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. Plaintiff filed claims but defendant has refused and neglected to pay, giving as its reason that the 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. Defendant also quoted clause 13 of the bill of lading, in which it is stated that in no case shall it be held liable beyond the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars unless a higher value is stated herein and ad valorem freight paid or assessed thereon. 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. Lower court decided for the plaintiff. Defendant appealed. Issue/s: WON the common carrier can escape liability for the damage of the merchandise in the case at bar. Ruling/s: NO Where it appears in the bill of lading issued to a shipper a clause limiting the carriers 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 carriers liability. Shippers are forced to ship goods in an ocean line and have legal rights, and when goods are delivered in board. The ship in good condition and the carrier delivers them to the shipper in bad order or condition, in an action for damages the burden of proof is shifted upon the carrier to both allege and prove that the goods were damaged by reason of same act which legally exempt it from liability. Because 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. Street, J. Dissenting I think that its liability is limited, under clause 13, printed on the back of the bill of lading, to the amount of 250 dollars for each of the two boxes of books comprising this consignment. While the law does not permit a carrier gratuitously to exempt itself from liability for the negligence of its servants, it cannot effectually do so for a valuable consideration; and where freight rates are adjusted upon the basis of a reasonable limited value per package, where a higher value is not declared by the shipper, the limitation as to the value is binding.