42 N.E. 768 (Ohio 1896), Pennsylvania Co. v. McCann

Citation:42 N.E. 768, 54 Ohio St. 10
Opinion Judge:BRADBURY, J. (after stating the facts).
Attorney:A. W. Jones, for plaintiff in error. Cary & Boyle, George F. Arrel, W. T. Gibson, and R. B. Murray, for defendant in error.
Judge Panel:SHAUCK, J. (dissenting). BURKET, J., dissents,
Case Date:January 21, 1896
Court:Supreme Court of Ohio

Page 768

42 N.E. 768 (Ohio 1896)

54 Ohio St. 10




Supreme Court of Ohio.

January 21, 1896

Error to circuit court, Mahoning county.

Action by James McCann against the Pennsylvania Company. Judgment for plaintiff, and defendant brings error. Affirmed.

On the 7th day of May, 1890, the defendant in error, who was a brakeman in the service of the plaintiff in error, in attempting, in the state of Pennsylvania, to board one of its moving cars, put his foot in a stirrup that was suspended from the sill of the car, and used as a step in mounting the car. The stirrup, or step, yielded to the pressure of his foot, causing him to be thrown under the car, whereby a wheel of the locomotive, which was backing, ran over one of his legs, inflicting the injury of which he complained in his petition. After the evidence on behalf of the defendant in error had been introduced, the plaintiff in error moved the court of common pleas to take the case from the jury, and to render a judgment in its favor, which was done. Thereupon the defendant in error carried the cause to the circuit court to reverse the judgment of the court of common pleas. The circuit court reversed the judgment of the court of common pleas on the sole ground that the act of April 2, 1890 (87 Ohio Laws, 149), was applicable, by force of which the fact that the stirrup was defective made a prima facie case of negligence against the railroad company. The railroad company thereupon brought the cause to this court, to reverse the judgment of the circuit court, and reinstate that of the court of common pleas.

Syllabus by the Court

1. The general assembly of this state has authority to prescribe the circumstances that shall constitute prima facie evidence of a fact in issue in an action on trial in the courts of this state, whether the cause of action to which it relates arose within or without the territorial limits of the state.

2. The provision of the second section of the act of April 2, 1890 (87 Ohio Laws, 149), which provides that, when certain ‘ defects shall be made to appear in the trial of any action in the courts of this state, brought by such employé or his legal representatives against any railroad corporation for damages on account of such injuries so received, the same shall be prima facie evidence of negligence on the part of such corporation,’ applies to all railroad companies any part of whose line of railway extends into this state, whether the injury complained of was received within or without the state. Shauck, and Burket, JJ., dissenting.

Page 769

[54 Ohio St. 11] A. W. Jones, for plaintiff in error.

Cary & Boyle, [54 Ohio St. 14] George F. Arrel, W. T. Gibson, and R. B. Murray, for defendant in error.

[54 Ohio St. 16] BRADBURY, J. (after stating the facts).

The only question arising upon the record of sufficient importance to be worthy of extended consideration is whether the act of the general assembly of this state, passed April 2, 1890 (87 Ohio Laws, 149), is applicable to the case, or not, the injury complained of having been sustained beyond the limits of this state. It was contended in argument that the railroad upon which the plaintiff below was injured law wholly outside the state. The record, however, discloses that the railroad company, at the time, and before the accident occurred, was operating a railroad running from Youngstown, in this state, to a point within the state of Pennsylvania, and, in connection therewith, a branch, four or five miles long, on which the accident occurred, connecting the main line with certain coal mines from which it transported coal to the main line, and thence in different directions over the latter to market, and that, in the discharge of his duties as servant of the railroad company, the defendant in error passed in and out of the state of Ohio, on the main line, as the exigencies of its business required. The second section of the act in question (87 Ohio Laws, 149) prescribes the effect that shall be given to evidence which establishes a defect in the locomotives, cars, machinery, or attachments of certain railroads, in actions for injuries to its employés, caused by such defects, and declares that, [54 Ohio St. 17] when such defects are made to appear, the same shall be prima facie evidence of negligence. There can be no doubt respecting the general power of a state to prescribe the rules of evidence which shall be observed by its judicial tribunals. It is a matter concerning its internal policy, over which its legislative department necessarily has authority, limited only by the constitutional guaranties respecting due process of law, vested rights, and the inviolability of contracts. Railroad Co. v. Erick, 51 Ohio St. 146, 37 N.E. 128. In Templeton v. Kraner, 24 Ohio St. 554, this court held that, ‘ under the grant of legislative power in the constitution, the general assembly has complete control over the remedies which are to be afforded to parties in the courts of this state, and if the remedies provided do not interfere with vested rights, such effect must be given...

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