« ForrigeFortsett »
244 U. S.
Opinion of the Court.
error a reversal is sought of the action of the court below in affirming a judgment entered by the trial court on the verdict of a jury in favor of the plaintiff.
The evidence tended to show the following facts: Gotschall, a minor twenty years old, at the time in question was head brakeman on an extra freight train running from Albert Lea, Minnesota, to Minneapolis and transporting interstate commerce merchandise. As the train left Jordan, an intermediate station, Gotschall boarded a car toward the rear end and was proceeding along the tops of the cars toward the locomotive when the train separated because of the opening of a coupler on one of the cars, resulting in an automatic setting of the emergency brakes and a sudden jerk which threw Gotschall off the train and under the wheels.
The jury, under an instruction of the court, was permitted to infer negligence on the part of the company from the fact that the coupler failed to perform its function, there being no other proof of negligence. It is insisted this was error, since as there was no other evidence of negligence on the part of the company the instruction of the court was erroneous as from whatever point of view looked at it was but an application of the principle designated as res ipsa loquitur, a doctrine the unsoundness of which, it is said, plainly results from the decisions in Patton v. Texas & Pacific Ry. Co., 179 U. S. 658 and Looney v. Metropolitan R. R. Co., 200 U. S. 480. We think the contention is without merit because, conceding in the fullest measure the correctness of the ruling announced in the cases relied upon to the effect that negligence may not be inferred from the mere happening of an accident except under the most exceptional circumstances, we are of opinion such principle is here not controlling in view of the positive duty imposed by the statute upon the railroad to furnish safe appliances for the coupling of cars. St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Ry. Co. v. Taylor, 210
U. S. 281, 294, 295; Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Ry. Co. v. United States, 220 U. S. 559, 575; Delk v. St. Louis & San Francisco R. R. Co., 220 U. S. 580, 586; Texas & Pacific Ry. Co. v. Rigsby, 241 U. S. 33, 43.
Again it is insisted that error was committed in submitting the case to the jury because there was no evidence of pecuniary loss resulting to Gotschall's father, on whose behalf the suit was brought. But this disregards the undisputed fact that the deceased was a minor and, as under the Minnesota law the father was entitled to the earnings of his son during minority, the question is one not of right to recover, but only of the amount of damages which it was proper to award.
OHIO RIVER CONTRACT COMPANY v. GORDON, JUDGE OF THE JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT.
ERROR TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE
No. 594. Argued April 9, 1917.-Decided May 21, 1917.
The fact that personal injuries sued for occurred while plaintiff was employed on work which defendant was performing under contract with the United States does not prevent a state court from entertaining the action.
An Indiana corporation, in constructing a canal for the United States on a federal reservation in Kentucky, carried the excavated materials over a railroad it had built for the purpose, to land belonging to another and dumped them there with such owner's consent. The dump and, in part, the railroad were within Kentucky and outside the reservation. Held, that without regard to whether the jurisdiction over the reservation was exclusively federal, the transport and deposit of the materials beyond its limits was such a doing of business in Kentucky as subjected the corporation to the jurisdiction of the courts of that State in a transitory action.
Opinion of the Court.
The corporation was sued in a Kentucky court for injuries suffered by an employee while engaged upon the work within the reservation, a summons being served in the reservation on an agent whom it had designated under the Kentucky law for receiving service of process in case of suit, and an alias summons being served on the agent while off the reservation at his home in Kentucky. Held, that, if the first service was void upon the ground that jurisdiction over the reservation was exclusively in the United States, the second was good, since the corporation did business in the State outside the reservation. An action for personal injuries suffered on a reservation under exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, being transitory, may be maintained in a state court which has personal jurisdiction of the defend
170 Kentucky, 412, affirmed.
THE case is stated in the opinion.
Mr. W. Overton Harris, with whom Mr. A. E. Richards was on the brief, for plaintiff in error.
Mr. Matthew O'Doherty, with whom Mr. Morton K. Yonts was on the briefs, for defendant in error.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the court.
In July, 1914, one Haines sued the Ohio River Contract Company, the plaintiff in error, and Swisher, one of its employees, in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Kentucky, to recover damages resulting from personal injuries alleged to have been occasioned by the negligence of the defendants while Haines was in the employ of the company. The defendant company by appropriate pleadings challenged the power of the court to entertain the suit both because of the want of jurisdiction over the corporation and over the subject-matter of the suit. Briefly the facts were these:
The Contract Company was a corporation organized
under the laws of Indiana and had its principal place of business in that State. At the time in question it was engaged within the geographical limits of the State of Kentucky in constructing under a contract with the United States Government a canal with locks and dam on the Ohio River on a piece of land known as the Canal Reservation acquired by the United States by purchase or condemnation from the State of Kentucky with the consent of its legislature. While most of the work under the contract was performed on the land thus acquired, the earth and rocks excavated in the construction of the canal were hauled over railroad tracks laid by the defendant company on land outside of the canal reservation and, through an arrangement with the Kentucky and Indiana. Terminal Railway Company, were dumped on its property in the State of Kentucky. The accident which gave rise to the injuries complained of occurred in the course of the work on the canal reservation. In conformity with a statute of Kentucky the company had designated an agent in the State upon whom process might be served in the event suits were brought against it in the State. The summons issued in the cause was served on the designated agent when he was on the land of the United States, but subsequently an alias summons was served on him at his home in Louisville.
Under these facts it was insisted the court was without jurisdiction (a) because when the accident occurred the company and the plaintiff were engaged in work under a contract with the United States Government; (b) because the cause of action arose on land acquired by the United States by purchase or condemnation with the consent of the legislature of Kentucky and therefore under Article I, § 8, clause 17, of the Constitution of the United States the jurisdiction of the Federal Government was exclusive; (c) because the service of the original summons was void, since it was made upon the land of the United States
where, it was insisted, state process cannot run; and (d) because the service of the alias summons was also void since the company transacted no business in the State and the person served was not its agent for any purpose in the State, but represented the company only in its work on the reservation. The objections of the company to the jurisdiction were overruled and the case was set down for trial. Thereupon the company, desiring a review of the jurisdictional questions and in order to avoid the consequences of the rule under the Kentucky practice that the appearance of a party on appeal operates as a waiver of a claim of want of jurisdiction over his person (Western Indemnity Company v. Rupp, 235 U. S. 261), applied to the court below for a writ of prohibition directed to the trial judge to restrain him from proceeding further in the cause. A temporary restraining order was granted, but on final hearing the petition was overruled and the writ of prohibition denied, and upon the theory, which was adequately presented below, that to subject the defendant corporation to the jurisdiction of the state court under the circumstances stated would be a violation of due process in conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment, this writ of error was prosecuted.
At the present term, on application of the plaintiff in error, an order was issued to restrain further proceedings in the cause in the courts below pending the decision of the case here.
We at once put out of view the contention that the trial court was without jurisdiction because the parties at the time of the accident were engaged in work under a contract with the United States Government since the want of merit in the proposition has been previously established. Gromer v. Standard Dredging Company, 224 U. S. 362, 371.
The remaining contentions are also we think without merit. Conceding for the sake of the argument only that