Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 94 C 1010--Robert W. Gettleman, Judge.
Before BAUER, RIPPLE, and MANION, Circuit Judges.
Center Video Industrial, Inc. ("Center Video") contracted with Roadway Package Systems, Inc. ("Roadway") to ship products to mail order customers. Roadway's filed tariff required that a shipper's instruction to collect "cash only" for COD shipments meant that Roadway could accept cash or cash equivalent instruments. When Roadway accepted as payment an instrument that was marked "certified funds" but that turned out to be worthless, Center Video sued for breach of contract. The district court concluded that the instrument was not authorized by the tariff and granted summary judgment for Center Video. We affirm.
Center Video sells video equipment to customers by mail order, shipping the equipment via common carrier. Roadway is a common carrier that Center Video frequently used to ship its product. As required by the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C. sec. 10762(a)(1), Roadway filed a tariff setting forth the rates, rules and regulations governing its shipment of goods. Pursuant to 49 C.F.R. sec. 1052.2, *fn1 which requires that cash on delivery ("COD") terms be set forth in a carrier's tariff, item 460 of Roadway's tariff provides:
Unless the shipper writes instructions to collect "Cash Only" on the COD label, carrier will accept the consignee's check naming the shipper as payee in payment for the COD package. When instructions to collect "Cash Only" are written on the COD label, carrier reserves the right to accept cash, cashier's check, certified check, money order or other similar instrument issued by or on behalf of the consignee. All checks (including cashier's checks and certified checks) and money orders tendered in payment of COD packages will be accepted by the carrier at shipper's risk including, but not limited to, the risk of nonpayment and forgery, and carrier shall not be liable upon any such instrument.
Center Video contracted with Roadway to ship COD, "cash only," equipment valued at $13,530 to an address identified as the United States Peace Corps in Denver, Colorado. *fn2 Roadway released the goods to the recipient "Peace Corps," accepting as payment an instrument that resembled a check from the "United States Peace Corps" but which also had "certified funds" printed above a scribbled signature. Center Video was unable to collect on the instrument and demanded that Roadway pay $13,530 for the goods based on its failure to comply with the tariff. *fn3 Roadway refused and Center Video sued for breach of contract.
The district court granted Center Video summary judgment, finding that Roadway had violated its tariff and thus its contract, and awarded Center Video damages of $13,530. *fn4 Roadway appeals. We affirm.
The district court concluded that Roadway had violated its tariff by accepting a nonnegotiable instrument as payment from the "Peace Corps." Summary judgment is appropriate if there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. GCIU Employer Retirement Fund v. Chicago Tribune Co., 66 F.3d 862, 864 (7th Cir. 1995). We review summary judgment de novo. Id.
The undisputed facts demonstrate that Roadway failed to comply with the terms of its tariff. The tariff required that "when instructions to collect 'Cash Only' are written on the COD label," Roadway may accept only "cash, cashier's check, certified check, money order or other similar instrument issued by or on behalf of the consignee." Roadway admits the document it accepted was neither cash, cashier's check, certified check, nor a money order. It contends instead that the document was a "similar instrument," or at least that its driver reasonably believed it was. *fn5
Taken out of context, the term "similar instrument" could mean many things. However, the term does not exist in isolation. It immediately follows four specific terms: cash, cashier's check, certified check, and money order. "[W]here a general term follows a series of specific terms, the former should not be given its broadest possible meaning, but rather extends only to matters of the same general class or nature as the terms specifically enumerated." (rule of ejusdem generis). Pipefitters Welfare Educ. Fund v. Westchester Fire Ins. Co., 976 F.2d 1037, 1041 (7th Cir. 1992). Applying this rule of construction to Roadway's tariff ...