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the nature of the transportation as determined by the field of the carrier's operation. This is the construction placed upon the act by the Interstate Commerce Commission. International Paper Co. v. Delaware & Hudson Co., 33 I. C. C. 270, 273, citing Texas & Pacific Ry. Co. v. Interstate Commerce Commission, 162 U. S. 197. It is in harmony with that placed upon the words of § 1 of the Harter Act, February 13, 1893, c. 105, 27 Stat. 445, "any vessel transporting merchandise or property from or between ports of the United States and foreign ports," which in Knott v. Botany Mills, 179 U. S. 69, 75, were construed to include vessels bringing cargoes from foreign ports to the United States. There is a later clause in § 1 which deals. specifically with the transportation of property to or from foreign countries; but cases arising under that clause are not applicable here. That clause applies where the foreign country is not adjacent to the United States. The cases which hold that the act does not govern shipments from a foreign country in bond through the United States to another place in a foreign country, whether adjacent or not, are also not in point. Compare United States v. Philadelphia & Reading Ry. Co., 188 Fed. Rep. 484; In the Matter of Bills of Lading, 52 I. C. C. 671, 726–729; Canales v. Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Ry. Co., 37 I..C. C. 573.

Since the transportation here in question was subject to the Act to Regulate Commerce, both carrier and passenger were bound by the provisions of the published tariffs. As these limited the recovery for baggage carried to $100, in the absence of a declaration of higher value and the payment of an excess charge, and as no such declaration was made and excess charge paid, that sum only was recoverable.


Argument for Plaintiffs in Error.



No. 76. Argued November 8, 1920. Decided December 20, 1920.

1. The construction placed on the constitution and laws of a State by its highest court must be accepted by this court in determining their consistency with the Federal Constitution. P. 368.

2. The right of a State to enforce a legitimate public policy includes the right to change and improve its regulations for that purpose, even to the making of changes which conflict with the arrangements and contracts made by individuals in reliance on previous regulations. P. 369.

3. The State of Ohio, in carrying out its policy of workmen's compensation (see Jeffrey Manufacturing Co. v. Blagg, 235 U. S. 571), first allowed employers, in certain cases, the privilege of paying directly to their workmen or their dependents the compensation provided by law, instead of contributing to the state fund established to insure such payments; but afterwards, acting under power reserved over the subject, it took away this privilege from employers who indemnified themselves by insurance. Held, that the change did not impair the constitutional rights of property or of contract of an employer who had elected to take the privilege of direct payment and had insured himself with an insurance company before the change was made. P. 366.

99 Oh. St. 120, affirmed.

THE case is stated in the opinion.

Mr. Judson Harmon and Mr. A. I. Vorys for plaintiffs in error:

The legislature has the power to compel all employers to contribute to the state workmen's compensation fund, or it may provide the conditions upon which employers may pay into the state fund, and the conditions upon

Argument for Plaintiffs in Error.

254 U. S.

which they may pay compensation directly to employees, but the desire of an employer, who elects to pay compensation directly, to indemnify himself cannot be made the sole basis of a legislative classification of employers, distinguishing them as ineligible to pay compensation directly. Such basis of classification is not related to the purpose of the constitutional amendment and the workmen's compensation law. Adams v. Tanner, 244 U. S. 590; State v. U. S. F. & G. Co., 96 Oh. St. 250; Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. Ellis, 165 U. S. 150; Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R. R. Co. v. McGuire, 219 U. S. 549; Chicago v. Netcher, 183 Illinois, 104; Traux v. Raich, 239 U. S. 33; Ives v. South Buffalo Ry. Co., 201 N. Y. 271; Chenoweth v. State Board, 57 Colorado, 74; Byers v. Meridian Printing Co., 84 Oh. St. 408; Dunahoo v. Huber, 185 Iowa, 753.

The legislature has no power to prohibit employers from insuring or indemnifying themselves against their liability to employees. Insurance is not inimical to public policy. Phoenix Insurance Co. v. Erie & Western Transportation Co., 117 U. S. 312; Allgeyer v. Louisiana, 165 U. S. 578. Liability insurance is not inimical to public policy. American Casualty Company's Case, 82 Maryland, 535; Kansas City &c. R. R. Co. v. Southern News Co., 151 Missouri, 373; Breeden v. Frankford Insurance Co., 220 Missouri, 327; Stone v. Old Colony St. Ry. Co., 212 Massachusetts, 459; Rumford Falls Co. v. Casualty Co., 92 Maine, 574; Hoadley v. Purifoy, 107 Alabama, 276. Contracts indemnifying employers are not inimical to public welfare and the legislature cannot prohibit such contracts. Adams v. Tanner, supra; Allgeyer v. Louisiana, supra; Dobbins v. Los Angeles, 195 U. S. 223; Yee Gee v. San Francisco, 235 Fed. Rep. 757; German Alliance Insurance Co. v. Kansas, 233 U. S. 389; Chenoweth v. State Board, supra; Wilson v. New, 243 U. S. 332, 347.

Assuming, for the purpose of this branch of the argu


Opinion of the Court.

ment only, that the state fund "insures" the compensation due to employees from employers, and, that the law may give the state fund a monopoly of such insurance and deny the right to issue such insurance to all others, still the State cannot abrogate existing insurance, valid when it was issued, Bedford v. Eastern Building & Loan Association, 181 U. S. 227; American Building & Loan Association v. Rainbolt, 48 Nebraska, 434; McNamara v. Keene, 98 N. Y. S. 860; Industrial Building & Loan Association v. Meyers Co., 12 Arizona, 48; nor can it take away the right of the employer to procure other insurance by making contracts of insurance in other States, or by any other means over which the State has no control. Stone v. Old Colony St. Ry. Co., supra; New York Life Insurance Co. v. Dodge, 246 U. S. 357; Allgeyer v. Louisiana, supra.

Neither § 1465-69 nor § 1465-101, as amended in 1917, was intended to apply, and they do not apply to contracts theretofore made by employers. Sturges v. Carter, 114 U. S. 511; Bernier v. Becker, 37 Oh. St. 72; Kelley v. Kelso, 5 Oh. St. 198; State v. Creamer, 85 Oh. St. 349; Hathaway v. Mutual Life Insurance Co., 99 Fed. Rep. 534; Burridge v. New York Life Insurance Co., 211 Missouri, 158; Black's Constitutional Law, 3d ed., § 296; Lewis' Sutherland Statutory Construction, 2d ed., § 642.

The plan of workmen's compensation, as operated by the State Industrial Commission under the law of Ohio, is not insurance.

Mr. Timothy S. Hogan and Mr. B. W. Gearheart, with whom Mr. John G. Price, Attorney General of the State of Ohio, was on the briefs, for defendants in error.

MR. JUSTICE MCKENNA delivered the opinion of the court.

This suit was brought by the plaintiff in error, Thornton, against defendants in error, hereinafter called defendants,

Opinion of the Court.

254 U. S.

composing the Industrial Commission of Ohio. The Cleveland Stamping and Tool Company filed an answer and cross petition. From a judgment sustaining demurrers to the petition of Thornton, and to the answer and cross petition of the Cleveland Stamping and Tool Company, there was an appeal to the Court of Appeals and thence by proceeding in error to the Supreme Court of the State, by which court the judgment was affirmed. This writ of error is prosecuted by Thornton and the Cleveland Company.

Thornton's petition and the pleadings of the Cleveland Company are substantially the same. We use for convenience, Thornton's petition and state its allegations narratively as follows: He is a manufacturer at Cleveland, Ohio, employing more than forty men. The Industrial Commission determined, as required by the Act of the General Assembly of the State, passed February 26, 1913, and comprised in §§ 1465-41 A to 1465-106, General Code of Ohio, that he was of sufficient financial ability to render certain the payment of compensation to injured employees, the benefits provided by that act. He, on the-day of January, 1914, elected to accept the act and proceed under it, has since complied with its provisions, has abided by the rules of the Commission and all that is required of him by the act.

January, 1914, he made a written contract with the Ætna Life Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut, a duly licensed company, wherein that company agreed to pay to his injured employees the compensations required by the act of the assembly for injuries or upon death, and agreed to indemnify him against the liabilities and requirements of the act.

December 1, 1917, the Commission adopted a resolution which recited the Act of the Assembly of the State of February 16, 1917, amending § 1465-101, General Code of Ohio, and an Act of the General Assembly passed.

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