Hector Martinez & Co. v. S. Pac. Transp. Co.

606 F.2d 106 (5th Cir. 1979)



That general damages are awarded only if injury were foreseeable to a reasonable man and that special damages are awarded only if actual notice were given the carrier of the possibility of injury. Damage is foreseeable by the carrier if it is the proximate and usual consequence of the carrier's action. 


A carrier and a shipper arranged for shipment of a dragline in five separate railroad cars. A single uniform bill of lading was provided. The last of the five cars arrived late and damaged. The shipper filed suit against the carrier, seeking compensation for wrongful deprivation of the dragline's use during the periods of delay in transit and of repair. The carrier filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the alleged damages were special damages and therefore were not recoverable absent notice of the possibility of such damages. The district court granted the carrier's motion. 


Was it proper to grant the motion to dismiss?




The court found that general damages could have been awarded only if injury was foreseeable to a reasonable man, and special damages should have been awarded only if actual notice was given to the carrier of the possibility of injury. Reversing in part, the court held that the amount of damages that were reasonably foreseeable involved a question of fact that appellant was entitled to present to a jury.

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