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Telegraph Companies Not Common Carriers

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TELEGRAPH COMPANIES NOT COMMON CARRIERS. Telegraph and telephone companies are not common carriers, though the first few cases regarding them sought to hold them liable as such.

They are now regarded as quasi-public servants, bound to serve the public without discrimination, and held responsible as bailees for hire and not as common carriers. (Manville v. Western U. Tel. Co., 37 Ia. 214; Western U. Tel. Co. v. Adams, 75 Tex. 531.) They are held responsible for losses arising from failure to observe the most exact degree of care and skill, or for the least negligence. As public servants their duty is to receive messages indifferently from all who are willing to pay for the service, and to transmit such messages accurately and deliver them with promptness to the proper person. (113 Mass. 299.) But they need not furnish stock quotations to "bucket shops," or send messages on Sunday, save those which are regarded as a necessity. (84 Ky. 664; 118 Ind. 248.) Such companies are held liable for errors in transmit ting a message, as for omitting an important word, or for non-delivery of the message, these being prima fade evidence of negligence. (79 Me. 493.) That is, the liability attaches on proof of negligence, and failure to transmit correctly a message which is not obscure is prima facie negligence. (Telegraph Co. v. Griswold, 37 Ohio St 3o1.)

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