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HENDERSON v. LOUISVILLE AND NASHVILLE RAILROAD.

decided: October 31, 1887.

HENDERSON
v.
LOUISVILLE AND NASHVILLE RAILROAD.



ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA.

Author: Gray

[ 123 U.S. Page 62]

 MR. JUSTICE GRAY delivered the opinion of the court.

This was an action against a railroad corporation by a passenger to recover for the loss of a handbag and its contents.

The plaintiff, a married woman suing by authority of her husband, alleged in the original petition that on October 25, 1883, the defendant, being a common carrier of goods and persons for hire, received her into one of its cars as a passenger from her summer residence at Pass Christian in the State of Mississippi to her winter residence in New Orleans, having in her hand, and in her immediate custody, possession and control, a leathern bag of a kind usually carried by women of her condition and station in society, containing $5800 in bank bills, and jewelry worth $4075; that while the plaintiff, holding the bag in her hand, was attempting to close an open window next her seat, through which a cold wind was blowing upon her, the bag and its contents, by some cause unknown to her, accidentally fell from her hand through the open window upon the railroad; that she immediately told the conductor of the train that the bag contained property of hers of great value,

[ 123 U.S. Page 63]

     and requested him to stop the train, and to allow her to leave the car and retake the bag and its contents; but he refused to do so, although nothing hindered or prevented him, and, against her protestations, caused the train to proceed at great speed for three miles to Bay St. Louis, where he stopped the train, and she despatched a trusty person to the place where the bag had fallen; but before he arrived there the bag with its contents was stolen and carried away by some person or persons to the plaintiff unknown, "and was wholly lost to the plaintiff by the gross negligence of the defendant as aforesaid."

The further averments of the petition, undertaking to define specifically the nature and effect of the obligation assumed by the defendant to the plaintiff, are mere conclusions of law, not admitted by the exception, in the nature of a demurrer, which was filed by the defendant, in accordance with the practice in Louisiana, upon the ground that the petition set forth no cause of action. The Circuit Court sustained the exception, and ordered the petition to be dismissed. 20 Fed. Rep. 430.

On the day the judgment was rendered, and before it was signed, it was amended, on the plaintiff's motion, by adding the words "unless the plaintiff amend her petition so as to state a cause of action within five days."

Within the time the plaintiff filed an amended petition, alleging that the defendant received the plaintiff as a passenger, and the bag and its contents as part of her luggage, to be safely kept and carried by the defendant as a common carrier to New Orleans, and there delivered to the plaintiff; that the defendant did not so carry and deliver; and that the things were lost by the negligence and improper conduct of the defendant, and not by any want of care on the part of the plaintiff.

The defendant excepted to the amended petition, because the plaintiff and no right to file one after the original petition had been dismissed as aforesaid, and because the amended petition was inconsistent with the original petition, especially in that the original petition alleged that the bag and its contents were held and kept by the plaintiff in her immediate possession, control and custody, whereas the amended petition alleged that the defendant received them as her luggage.

[ 123 U.S. Page 64]

     After argument on this exception, the order allowing the plaintiff to file an amended petition was modified by the court so as to provide that the amended petition should be deemed and should have effect only as an addition to the original petition; and the exception to the amended petition ...


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