Ayer v. W. Union Tel. Co.

79 Me. 493, 10 A. 495 (1887)

 

RULE:


As between sender and receiver, the party, who selects the telegraph as the means of communication, shall bear the loss caused by the errors of the telegraph. More like this Headnote

FACTS:

Plaintiff, a lumber dealer, filed an action against defendant, a telegraph company, to recover damages for the negligent transmission of a telegraphic message. The telegraph company misstated the price at which the lumber dealer offered to sell certain laths but pursuant to a stipulation printed on the telegraph paper, senders agreed that the company would not be liable for mistakes in transmission for messages that were not telegraphed back to the sender for comparison with the original. The instant message was not telegraphed back and the receiver accepted at the lower, incorrect, price. The dealer then shipped the lathes and filed suit against the company for the damages resulting from the negligent transmission, claiming that it was entitled to the differences between the market price of the laths and the price at which they were shipped.

ISSUE:

Does the party who selects a telegraph as a means of communication in a sender/receiver relationship bear the loss caused by the errors of the telegraph?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The court entered a judgment for the dealer, noting that the company offered no evidence regarding the mistake and that a presumption arose that the mistake resulted from the fault of the company. Additionally, it was found that the stipulation in the contract of transmission was void as against public policy. The court also held that a valid contract resulted from the transmission and that the dealer was, as claimed, entitled to the difference between the market price of the laths and the price at which they were shipped.

The court rendered a judgment for the plaintiff.

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