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BICYCLES ARE BAGGAGE.
J. R. BETTIS, PLAINTIFF, VS.
Mr. Bettis, who lives in Webster, Mo., brought a suit against the Missouri Pacific R. R. Co., asking the Court to issue a writ of mandamus to compel the road to carry his bicycle in its baggage-car to St. Louis without extra charge, on the ground that such bicycle came within the statute which requires roads to carry ordinary baggage without extra charge up to one hundred pounds.
The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the suit on the ground that under the facts stated the bicycle could not be held to be ordinary baggage. This motion the Court overruled, and decided that the bicycle, under the facts stated in the petition, must be carried as ordinary baggage without extra charge. The rule is limited to cases where the bicycle is carried by the passenger for his personal use at the end of the journey on the train. The decision of the Court on this point is as follows:
We come next to consider the question whether, under the circumstances alleged in the petition, a bicycle is ordinary baggage, and in considering this question it may be well to look at the facts which gave rise to the carrying of baggage by railroad companies without any charge beyond the price required for the transportation of passengers. The necessity of taking with them certain articles for their personal convenience and comfort has led carriers for hire to adopt a practice of carrying for passengers a reasonable amount of baggage. This practice grew partly out of the necessities of the case and partly out of the desire on the part of carriers to encourage travel, and finally ripened [page 33] into a right due the passenger, and which was construed by the courts as having been paid for in the price of transportation. At the present time this right has become as firmly established as the corresponding right to be transported to the destination for which the traveler has purchased his ticket.
In order to determine what is meant by baggage it will be seen that we must ascertain the purpose for which these things were taken by the traveler.
In the earlier English decisions this is denominated luggage, and is said to consist of those things which are necessary for the comfort and convenience of the traveler. This definition was broadened and the rule extended until it finally became settled that whatever the person takes with him for his personal use or convenience, according to the habits or wants of the particular class to which he belongs, either with reference to the immediate necessities, or to the ultimate purpose of the journey, was considered personal baggage. This rule includes not only all articles of personal apparel, whether for use or ornament, but also the gun-case or fishing apparatus of the sportsman, the easel of the artist on a sketching tour, or the books of the student and other articles of an analogous character, the use of which is personal to the traveler, and the taking of which has arisen from the fact of his journeying.
Macrow vs. Ry. Co., 6 Q. B., 622;
While the above general rule may now be considered as the settled law both of England and in this country, yet it must be taken with certain limitations, which will be apparent when stated. The articles taken should not exceed the limit of reason or custom. They should be for the convenience of the traveler and not for some other party. They must not be carried for the purpose [page 34] of sale, etc., etc. Neither would those things which only a crank or an eccentric person would take with him be considered as baggage.
It is true that it has not been many years since those who like relator were addicted to bicycle riding were regarded as cranks, but his class has grown and his tribe multiplied until it threatens to include all mankind, and we are forced to accord the wheelman the average human intelligence, and we cannot say now that only a crank would carry with him a wheel.
As illustrating this rule regarding the limitations thrown about this general definition of baggage, it has been held that a lady's sack or muff, or a woman's jewelry carried in the trunk of a man could not be deemed his baggage, nor could presents for friends. (38 Central Law journal, 70, and cases cited.) It should also be noted that regard must be had to the class to which the passenger belongs, for that which would be baggage for one class, would not, if carried by a man of another class, be classed as baggage. Hence the test is not whether the articles are usually carried by all passengers, but whether they are fit and proper for the personal convenience and use for the class to which he belongs. As illustrating this, it has been held that the dental instruments of a traveling dentist were baggage. Brock vs. Gale, 14 Fla., 523.
And the surgical instruments of an army surgeon. Railroad vs. Swift, 12 Wall, 272.
So, too, a reasonable quantity of tools of a mechanic. R. R. vs. Morrison, 34 Kan., 502.
And the telescope of a seafaring man who was traveling for pleasure. Cadwallader vs. R. R., 9 Lower Canada, 169.
These authorities might be multiplied to an almost interminable length, showing that in all cases the courts take into consideration whether [page 35] the things claimed as baggage are fit and proper for persons of the class to which the traveler belongs.
Neither is baggage limited always to those things which a traveler needs on his journey, otherwise a seafaring man who traveled in the night could not have his telescope claimed as baggage. But articles for use at the end of the journey, or during a temporary stay at a particular place, are as properly baggage as those actually used in the transit.
R. R. vs. Hammond, 30 Ind., 379;
The same authorities clearly determine that no particular kind or species of chattels are comprehended under the term baggage; the word is broad enough to cover almost every kind of personal property. Whether, therefore, a particular chattel is baggage depends not upon whether it is a vehicle, fire-arm or beds and bedding, but upon entirely different considerations. Either such articles may be baggage under certain conditions while under different neither would be.
Hutchinson on Carriers, Sec. Supra.
We come next to consider the application of the foregoing principles to this case, -- and first it should be said that, for the purpose of determining the motion before the Court, the facts stated in the petition of the relator are to be considered as true.
It appears from the relator's petition that the bicycle is a machine or vehicle in very common use amongst a large class of people, for health, recreation and locomotion; that the relator belongs to this class, which is usually denominated wheelmen or bicycle riders; that it is the use or custom for the relator and for wheelmen generally to take their bicycles on railroad trains for use at [page 36] the end of the journey and to make trips on railroads, taking their bicycles with them for the purpose of using them at the end of their journey for health, recreation or locomotion. In considering this question we are not permitted to determine whether the facts will justify the statements set forth in relator's petition. That cannot be inquired into at this time. Keeping in mind the definition of baggage as determined by the courts, it will be seen that the article sought to be transported as baggage must be for the personal use or convenience of the traveler, according to the habits or custom of the particular class to which he belongs and if it may be for his immediate use on the journey or for his need during his time of stay. That these requirements are met by the petition is apparent if we are to consider the bicyclist as a separate and distinct class. From whatever standpoint we may look at them, we are forced to the conclusion that they form a class and a decidedly large one, and the courts must take notice of this as they do other matters which impress themselves upon the senses. It would be foolish for the Court to assert, in view of what they witness every day, that the wheelmen do not compose a very substantial part of the community. In addition to this the allegations of the petition bring the relator's bicycle squarely within the above authorities cited. It is also alleged that the relator had no baggage but his bicycle and that it is within the statutory limit as to weight. In this view of the case, there can be no escape from the conclusion that the relator's bicycle is baggage, as defined by the authorities set out, and that the respondent is bound to carry it as such, without extra compensation therefor. The objection that the bicycle is a vehicle, and that if the respondents should be required to carry it, it might also be required to carry other vehicles of [page 37] a larger class and more cumbersome, is disposed of by the rule that the article sought to be carried as baggage shall not exceed-the limits of reason and custom. When we consider that the respondent carries the largest trunks made in its baggage cars, it cannot be well said that a vehicle not exceeding thirty-five pounds in weight should be rejected because of its size and weight. If the one is within the limit of reason and custom, the other could hardly be rejected because it is not. Nor do we think the objection that the bicycle is liable to injury in being transported without crating is entitled to consideration. since in this action we are not to determine under what conditions the respondent shall be required to transport the baggage. In any event it does not appear that it would be any more easily injured than the sportsman's gun or fishing tackle, or the artist's easel which, as heretofore seen, are classed as baggage.
It is also asserted in the petition. and admitted by the motion that the respondent had heretofore carried bicycles in its baggage cars free up to a certain date, and that it is still carrying them in its baggage cars or offers to carry them upon payment of a charge for extra baggage.
It is objected by the respondent that all the cases that can be cited determining what is baggage are those in which suits have been brought for the recovery of baggage lost, and that one of the elements which enter into these cases is the fact that for the carrying of this the carrier had been paid by the purchase of the passenger's ticket, and that in these cases the property which had been lost had been placed by the passenger in some trunk or box and the traveller had received a certificate in the form of a check for the delivery of these packages to him at the point of destination. The position of respondent in this respect is correct, but it may be stated in answer [page 38] that we have no reason to believe that the courts would in a case like the present make a different definition of the word baggage. So far as the matter has been before the courts they have in all cases, however they may have arisen, defined baggage as hereinbefore stated, and we think it reasonable to conclude that they will not give a different definition, although the question may arise in a different way. The definition of baggage must remain the same under any and all circumstances or the definition would not be a complete one. This word has been under consideration by the courts so often that I think it may be very truly said that the present definition is a full and complete one, and will not be departed from in the future.
The motion to quash the alternative writ will be overruled.
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