« ForrigeFortsett »
U. S. 180, 183; Louisville & Nashville R. R. Co. v. Smith, 204 U. S. 551.
The Federal question relied upon to sustain the writ of error to this court concerns the construction and application of the Employers' Liability Act of April 22, 1908, 35 Stat. 65, c. 149. Neither the complaint nor the answer makes any direct reference to that act; but the complaint did allege that the railroad company was operating a line of railroad between Portsmouth, Virginia, and Monroe, North Carolina, and that the plaintiff while in its employment as baggage-master and flagman upon a passenger train running between said points was negligently injured by a head-on collision. This states a ground of action under that act and it was so assumed by the trial court, as appears from that part of the charge relating to the effect of contributory negligence, as well as from some of the questions made in the Supreme Court of the State.
That the collision was due to negligence was conceded. The only defense which seems to have been made was that under the rules of the company, the plaintiff was required to remain in the baggage car; but that he was hurt while in the express car, a place where, it is claimed, his duty did not call him, and therefore, he was not injured while employed in the service of the company, or engaged in any duty his employment devolved upon him. The case was submitted upon these issues, and the finding of the jury upon each was as follows:
"1. Was the plaintiff injured by the negligence of the defendant? Answer. Yes.
"2. Was the plaintiff's injury caused by his contributory negligence? Answer. No.
"3. What damage is the plaintiff entitled to recover? Answer. $30,000."
Four requests for special charges, which bear upon this defense and which were denied, have been assigned here
as error reviewable by this court. They were as follows:
"1. That where an employé undertakes to do something not his duty to do, the master is not negligent; and if the jury shall find by the greater weight of the evidence that the plaintiff was acting outside of the scope of his employment when he was injured, they will find the first issue 'No.'
"3. That as the plaintiff admits that he was in the express car at the time of his injuries, and as the rules of the receivers of the defendant (of which he admits he had that notice) required him to remain in the baggage car, when not engaged in flagging the train, the burden is upon the plaintiff to satisfy the jury by the greater weight of evidence, that when he went into said express car, and was injured, he was engaged in the discharge of the duties of his employment, and if he has failed to so satisfy the jury, you will answer the first issue 'No.'
"4. That unless the jury shall find by the greater weight of the evidence that when the plaintiff went into the express car, he understood that he was going there to discharge some of the duties of his employment, the defendant's negligence in causing the derailment of said car would not be the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries, and the jury will answer the first issue 'No.'
"6. The admitted rules of the receivers of the defendant required the plaintiff to remain in the baggage car when not engaged in flagging the train, and the plaintiff had no right to go into the express car in violation of the provisions of the said rules, unless the conductor ordered him to do so for the purpose of discharging some one of the duties of his employment; and unless the jury shall find by the greater weight of the evidence that when the conductor told the plaintiff to go with him into said car, he thereby understood that the conductor wished him to
go to discharge his duties as an employé of the defendant, the jury will answer the first issue 'No.'"
The plaintiff in error also excepted to a part of the court's charge which was in these words:
"If you find from the evidence that the plaintiff had no right to go into the express car; that he was not where he should have been; and you further find that he would not have been injured but for his going into the express car, and that his going into the express car was such an act on his part that a reasonably prudent man ordinarily would not have done under the circumstances of the situation, then he would be guilty of contributory negligence, and it would be your duty to answer the second issue 'Yes.' If you do not so find, it would be your duty to answer the second issue 'No.'"
Not one of the requests asks any definite construction of any part of the Employers' Liability Act, or, indeed, contains any reference whatever to the act.
They are based alone upon the admitted facts that at the time of the collision the plaintiff was in the express car, and that there was a rule of the company requiring him to be in the baggage car. They assume that in being in the express car he was where he had no right to be, and that if injured while there the jury must acquit the company of negligence and upon that issue find for the railroad company. The requests take no account of the legal effect of other evidence in the case. Thus, there was evidence tending to show that the express car was used for through baggage, and that baggage was often received from the platform into the express car, and carried to the adjacent baggage car. There was also evidence tending to show that the rule referred to was not enforced, and that the baggage-master and express messenger frequently exchanged work, and that this was known to the conductor, who made no objection. There was also evidence tending to show that both the conductor and the
plaintiff had gone to the express car, either upon the call of the messenger or for a social purpose, the plaintiff in either event going by direction or on invitation of his immediate superior, the conductor of the train. Any question as to whether his being in the express car at the moment of the collision either contributed to the collision or to the injury he sustained, as well as any consideration of the question whether he was in any way negligent in being there, as being in a place of greater danger than if in the baggage car, was ignored.
The trial court was under no obligation to give special charges based upon but a part of the evidence-charges which, in effect, took from the jury every question save the single fact that plaintiff was, when hurt, in the express car, and that there was a rule which required him to remain in the baggage car.
But the plaintiff in error now urges that it was entitled to have construed that provision of the Employers' Liability Act which requires that a plaintiff to recover under it must have been injured "while he was employed by such carrier in such commerce," and that the requests denied were applicable to the evidence which tended to show that he had ceased to be such an employé, because he was not, at the moment of the injury, engaged in the conduct of interstate commerce, or at the place where his duty required him to be. That the plaintiff was in the general employment of an interstate railroad, and at the time was the baggage-master of one of its trains running from one State to another, was shown by all the evidence. If his employment had been terminated, it was solely because he had momentarily gone into the adjacent express car. If he was injured while employed about something which it was not his duty to do, it was solely due to the fact that he had gone into that car either under direction or with the consent of his conductor.
This case does not come here from a Federal court and
we are, therefore, not a court of general review. It comes under § 709, Rev. Stat., and the power to review a judgment of a state court is limited and defined by that provision. The sole ground upon which our jurisdiction is invoked is found in the third clause of the section, which provides that, "when any title, right, privilege or immunity is claimed under the Constitution, or any treaty or statute . . . and the decision is against the title, right, privilege or immunity specially set up or claimed, may be reëxamined or reviewed.
This action was brought under an act of Congress. If the act has been erroneously construed and exceptions saved, or if a particular construction to which the party asking was entitled, was denied, a right has been denied under the statute, and the question may be reviewed by this court. In St. Louis, I. M. & S. Ry. v. Taylor, 210 U. S. 281, 293, it was said:
"Where a party to litigation in a state court insists, by way of objection to or requests for instructions, upon a construction of a statute of the United States which will lead, or, on possible findings of fact from the evidence may lead, to a judgment in his favor, and his claim in this respect, being duly set up, is denied by the highest court of the State, then the question thus raised may be reviewed in this court. The plain reason is that in all such cases he has claimed in the state court a right or immunity under a law of the United States and it has been denied to him. Jurisdiction so clearly warranted by the Constitution and so explicitly conferred by the act of Congress needs no justification. But it may not be out of place to say that in no other manner can a uniform construction of the statute laws of the United States be secured, so that they shall have the same meaning and effect in all the States of the Union."
That case came from a state court from a judgment against the plaintiff in error in an action under the Safety