242 U.S. 532 (1917), 242, Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Mims

Docket Nº:No. 242
Citation:242 U.S. 532, 37 S.Ct. 188, 61 L.Ed. 476
Party Name:Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Mims
Case Date:January 15, 1917
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 532

242 U.S. 532 (1917)

37 S.Ct. 188, 61 L.Ed. 476

Atlantic Coast Line R. Co.



No. 242

United States Supreme Court

January 15, 1917

Argued December 4, 1916




This Court is without jurisdiction to review a judgment of a state court under Rev.Stats., § 709, Jud.Code, § 237, upon the ground that a federal right was denied when the claim of federal right relied on was refused consideration in that court because it was not asserted at a proper time or in a proper manner under the established state system of pleading and practice.

The decision of the state court that a claim of federal right was not so presented is binding on this Court when not rendered in a spirit of evasion for the purpose of defeating the federal right.

In accordance with the foregoing principles, a party desiring to secure the benefits of the Federal Employers' Liability Act in an action in a state court must claim them in apt time and in an appropriate manner under the state rules of pleading and practice.

Writ of error to review 100 S.C. 375 dismissed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

CLARKE, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE Clarke delivered the opinion of the Court.

On December 10th, 1910, John J. Mims, a car inspector in the employ of the plaintiff in error, when attempting to cross a track to inspect a train of cars which had just

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arrived, was run down and killed by a switching engine at a public crossing in the City of Sumter, South Carolina.

In April following, this suit was commenced by the filing of a complaint which charges actionable negligence and alleges that the defendant owned and operated a line of railway described as wholly within the State of South Carolina. There is nothing in the complaint tending to state a cause of action under the federal law. To this complaint the defendant filed an answer which is a specific denial under the South Carolina Code of Civil Procedure and which contains two separate defenses. The first defense admits that Mims was killed at the time alleged, admits the paragraph alleging that the defendant, at the time of the accident complained of, owned and operated the line of railroad described as being wholly within the State of South Carolina, and denies all the other allegations of the complaint. The second defense is one of contributory negligence.

Upon this complaint and answer, the case went to trial, and when the testimony was all introduced, the trial court granted a nonsuit, which was reversed by the supreme court of the state with an order remanding the case for a new trial.

When the case was called for the second trial, the defendant asked leave to amend its answer by pleading "gross and willful contributory negligence" on the part of deceased, which was granted, and the trial proceeded until plaintiff rested her case.

Up to this time, no claim had been made by defendant and no facts had been pleaded or evidence offered by either party from which it could be inferred that the deceased at the time of his death was engaged in interstate commerce, or that the Federal Employers' Liability Act was in any manner applicable to the case.

When the plaintiff rested her case on the [37 S.Ct. 189] second trial, the defendant for the first time offered to introduce

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testimony which it is claimed, if admitted, would have tended to prove that the train which the deceased was in the act of approaching to inspect when he was killed "was engaged in interstate...

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