233 U.S. 318 (1914), 249, O'Sullivan v. Felix

Docket Nº:No. 249
Citation:233 U.S. 318, 34 S.Ct. 596, 58 L.Ed. 980
Party Name:O'Sullivan v. Felix
Case Date:April 13, 1914
Court:United States Supreme Court

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233 U.S. 318 (1914)

34 S.Ct. 596, 58 L.Ed. 980




No. 249

United States Supreme Court

April 13, 1914

Submitted March 9, 1914




That an action depends upon, or arises under, the laws of the United States does not preclude the application of the statute of limitations of the state. McLaine v. Rankin, 197 U.S. 154.

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An action brought in the state court for damage for personal assault against persons violating Rev.Stat. § 5508 and 5509 is not an action for penalties, but for remedial damages, and the period of prescription depends upon the law of the state. Rev.Stat. § 1047 does not apply.

The criminal proceedings and punishment for public wrongs provided by Rev.Stat. §§ 1979-1981 and 5510 and the actions in law and equity for the redress of private injuries resulting from violations of laws of the United States also provided by §§ 1971981 are distinct.

The term "penalty" involve the idea of punishment for infraction of the law, and includes any extraordinary liability to which the law subjects a wrongdoer in favor of the person wronged, not limited to the damages suffered, while in a civil suit the amount of recovery for such damages is determined by the extent of the injury received and the elements constituting it.

194 F. 88 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the construction and application of the statute of limitations of the Louisiana to claims for damages for personal assaults, are stated in the opinion.

MCKENNA, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE McKENNA delivered the opinion of the Court.

Action for damages for personal assault upon plaintiff in error, herein called plaintiff, by defendants in error, referred to as defendants, in the sum of $60,000.

The petition alleges that defendants and others were indicted for violating § 5508 of the Revised Statutes of the United States. The indictment is set out in the petition, and charges, with the usual verbosity of such instruments,

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that an election was held in the Parish of Jefferson, State of Louisiana, on November 3, 1908, for presidential electors, members of Congress, and certain municipal officers, under and in accordance with the laws and Constitution of the United States; that certain named persons were, as defendants well knew, qualified to vote at such election, that such persons were at the polling places with the intention and for the purpose of voting, and, knowing this, the defendants feloniously conspired and confederated with each other and other persons to intimidate and prevent, and did prevent, by the use of deadly weapons, such persons from voting.

It is alleged that the indictment further charged in a second count, a violation of § 5509 in that the defendants, with other named persons, conspiring to intimidate the voters named in the first count from voting at the election named,

did then and there, with force and arms, armed with dangerous weapons, to-wit: pistols, guns, scissors, willfully...

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