“In the 19th century it was common practice for shipowners to issue bills of lading that included stipulations exempting themselves from liability for losses occasioned by the negligence of their employees. Because a bill of lading was (and is) a contract of adhesion, which a shipper must accept or else find another means to transport his goods, shippers were in no position to bargain around these no-liability clauses. Although the English courts enforced the stipulations, see Compania de Navigacion la Flecha v. Brauer, 168 U.S. 104, 117-118, 18 S.Ct. 12, 15, 42 L.Ed. 398 (1897), citing Peck v. North Staffordshire Railway, 10 H.L. Cas. 473, 493. 494 (1863), this Court concluded, even prior to the 1893 enactment of the Harter Act, that they were ‘contrary to public policy, and consequently void,’ Liverpool & Great Western Steam Co. v. Phenix Ins. Co., 129 U.S. 397, 442, 9 S.Ct. 469, 472, 32 L.Ed. 788 (1889).” J. Stevens (dissenting), Vimar Seguros y Reaseguros, S.A. v. M/V Sky Reefer, 515 U.S. 528, 543-544 (1995).
adhesion contract (contract of adhesion)
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