147 U.S. 337 (1893), 1108, Luxton v. North River Bridge Company

Docket Nº:No. 1108
Citation:147 U.S. 337, 13 S.Ct. 356, 37 L.Ed. 194
Party Name:Luxton v. North River Bridge Company
Case Date:January 16, 1893
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 337

147 U.S. 337 (1893)

13 S.Ct. 356, 37 L.Ed. 194

Luxton

v.

North River Bridge Company

No. 1108

United States Supreme Court

January 16, 1893

Submitted December 22, 1892

ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED

STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY

Syllabus

An order of the circuit court of the United States appointing commissioners to assess damages for land in New Jersey taken by the North River Bridge Company for the approaches to a bridge across the North or Hudson River between New York and New Jersey, under the Act of July 11, 1590, c. 669, § 4, is not a final judgment, upon which a writ of error will lie.

The case is stated in the opinion.

GRAY, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE GRAY delivered the opinion of the Curt.

This is a writ of error to reverse an order made by the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of New Jersey on the petition of the North River Bridge Company, appointing commissioners to assess damages for the appropriation and condemnation of land of the plaintiff in error in the City of Hoboken, County of Hudson, and State of [13 S.Ct. 357] New Jersey, for the approaches to a bridge across the North or Hudson River between the States of New York and New Jersey, under the Act of Congress of July 11, 1890, c. 669, 26 Stat. 268, entitled

An act to incorporate the North River Bridge Company and to authorize the construction of a bridge and approaches at New York city, across the Hudson River, to regulate commerce in and over such bridge between the States of New York and New Jersey, and to establish such bridge a military and post road,

the constitutionality of which, as authorizing such appropriation and condemnation, is denied by the plaintiff in error.

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At the threshold of the case lies the inquiry whether the order of the circuit court appointing commissioners to assess damages for the taking by the petitioner of the respondent's land is a final judgment upon which a writ of error will lie. This depends upon the terms and effect of the act of incorporation of the petitioner by the Congress of the United States, taken in connection with the general railroad law of the State of New Jersey.

By section 4 of the act incorporating the petitioner, Congress has enacted that the compensation for property, real or personal, appropriated and condemned under the act, shall "be ascertained according to the laws of the state within which the same is located;" that

in case any litigation arises out of the construction, use, or operation of said bridge or approaches thereto and railroads thereon, or for the condemnation or the appropriation of property in connection therewith, under this act, the cause so arising shall be heard and tried before the circuit court of the United States for the judicial district in which the bridge or one of the approaches is located,

and that

applications for condemnation or appropriation of property shall be made in the circuit court of the United States for the District in which such property is situated, upon the petition of said company, and the hearing and trial of all other proceedings thereon shall conform as nearly as may be to the practice in the courts of the state in which such district is situated in the case of condemnation or appropriation of property for railroads.

26 Stat. 269, 270.

This direction that the proceedings in the circuit court of the United States shall "conform as nearly as may be to the practice in the courts of the state" must, of course, like the corresponding direction as to practice, pleadings, and procedure, in section 914 of the Revised Statutes, give way whenever to adopt the state practice would be inconsistent with the terms, defeat the purpose, or impair the effect of any legislation of Congress. Indianapolis & St. Louis Railroad v. Horst, 93 U.S. 291; Chateaugay Co., Petitioner, 128 U.S. 544; Southern Pacific Co. v. Denton, 146 U.S. 202.

By the general railroad law of New Jersey, any railroad

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corporation which cannot agree with the owner of land required for the construction of its road is to present an application, containing a description of the land, to a justice...

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