Chapman v. Railway Fuel Co.

Decision Date30 October 1924
Docket Number6 Div. 817.
Citation101 So. 879,212 Ala. 106
CourtAlabama Supreme Court

Appeal from Circuit Court, Jefferson County; J. B. Aird, Judge.

Action for damages for wrongful death by Isaac Chapman, as administrator of the estate of Robert F. Chapman, deceased against the Railway Fuel Company. Judgment for defendant, and plaintiff appeals. Affirmed.

Joel B Brown, of Cullman, for appellant.

Stokely Scrivner & Dominick, of Birmingham, for appellee.


Appellant sued in the right of his intestate as an employee of defendant, alleging that defendant had negligently failed to provide intestate with a reasonably safe place in which to perform the duties of his employment, and in another count alleging that defendant employer had negligently failed to comply with the statute (General Acts 1911, pp. 515, 516, § 40), requiring operators of coal mines to provide and maintain ample means of ventilation. Demurrer was sustained to the complaint on the ground that it showed plaintiff's intestate to have been an employee engaged at the time of the accident causing his death in the business about which he was employed, and so that his exclusive recourse for relief was under the Workmen's Compensation Law (General Acts 1919, pp. 206-239), as there provided. Appellant alleges that the act is unconstitutional and void on a quarter of an hundred different grounds. We shall consider only those which appear to be seriously pressed in argument.

It is said that the act violates section 45 of the Constitution, providing that "each law shall contain but one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title." The act is entitled:

"An act prescribing the liability of an employer to make compensation by way of damages for injuries received by an employee occasioned by an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment and providing for the enforcement of same, modifying common law and statutory remedies, in such cases; establishing an alternative elective schedule of compensation, regulating procedure for the determination of liability and compensation thereunder in certain cases, and prescribing penalties for the violation thereof; and providing for attorneys' fees and for medical and surgical services."

The most general and all-sufficient title is found in this language:

"Prescribing the liability of an employer to make compensation by way of damages for injuries received by an employee occasioned by an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment and providing for the enforcement of same."

The rest of the title, cataloguing some germane provisions of the act, added nothing, nor did it detract from that unity of title which is an indispensable element of legislative acts, under section 45 of the Constitution, for, when there is a fair expression of the general subject of the act in its title, "all matters reasonably connected with it, and all proper agencies or instrumentalities, or measures, which will or may facilitate its accomplishment, are proper to be incorporated in the act, and, as usually said, are cognate or germane to the title." Lindsay v. U.S. Savings, etc., 120 Ala. 172, 173, 24 So. 176, 42 L. R. A. 783.

We attach no serious importance to the insistence that the phrase "injuries received" in the title does not suggest that the act intends to deal with the subject of injuries resulting in death. It is obvious that an injury resulting in death is an "injury received." True, the headline of section 5 reads, "Death and Personal Injury Claims," and so may seem to indicate a discrimination between the two classes of injury, and for some purposes, of course, they are to be discriminated; but when it comes to a question in respect of the validity of the act as affected by section 45 of the Constitution, the word "injuries" in the title must be given the broadest meaning of which it is fairly capable, and so construed it includes injuries resulting in death. Furthermore, the general frame of the title suggests the legislative purpose to pass a comprehensive enactment covering the whole subject of the employer's liability to his employee on account of accident arising out of the employment, and to this general subject the denial of the right of action under section 3912 of the Code of 1907, section 7600 of the Code of 1923, where the parties have been brought within the field of operation covered by the Workmen's Compensation Act, is manifestly germane and cognate. As for sections 2484-2486 of the Code of 1907 (sections 5694-5696, of the Code of 1923), they are affected by the Compensation Act to the extent only, if at all, they apply to cases arising between employer and employee.

Referring to section 11 of the act, wherein it is provided that the acceptance of the provisions of the act is conclusively presumed unless the employer or employee, 30 days prior to the accident, shall have signified an election not to accept or be bound, appellant denies such provisions to be within legislative competency, and cites cases in which it...

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26 cases
  • Reed v. Brunson
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • March 4, 1988
    ...objections by choosing coverage under the act. The constitutionality of the act was again challenged in Chapman v. Railway Fuel Co., 212 Ala. 106, 101 So. 879 (1924). In Chapman, the Court adopted the rule enunciated by the United States Supreme Court in New York Central R.R. v. White, supr......
  • Fireman's Fund American Ins. Co. v. Coleman
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • August 8, 1980
    ...and obligations between the affected parties, unquestionably, the Act would not have withstood a § 13 attack. See Chapman v. Railway Fuel Co., 212 Ala. 106, 101 So. 879 (1924). I do not interpret Jadosh and Mier as so holding. These Courts simply look to the employer's obligation as an elem......
  • Harris v. State ex rel. Williams
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • November 23, 1933
    ... ... title is not uncertain or misleading. Chapman v. Ry. Fuel ... Co., 212 Ala. 106, 101 So. 879; State ex rel. Gunter ... v. Thompson, 193 Ala ... sufficient expression of one subject. State v. Stripling, ... In ... Southern Railway Co. v. Mitchell, supra, the court was ... dealing with a general revenue bill. While its title did ... ...
  • Shelly v. Ala. Dep't of Corr.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • November 2, 2012
    ...§ 13A–1–9(a)(1), Ala.Code 1975, a crime in which the defendant recklessly or intentionally caused death. See Chapman v. Railway Fuel Co., 212 Ala. 106, 108, 101 So. 879, 880 (1924) (recognizing that death is an injury); Kemner v. Hemphill, 199 F.Supp.2d 1264, 1270 (N.D.Fla.2002) (“There can......
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1 books & journal articles
  • Medical Malpractice as Workers' Comp: Overcoming State Constitutional Barriers to Tort Reform
    • United States
    • Emory University School of Law Emory Law Journal No. 67-5, 2018
    • Invalid date
    ...So. 530 (Ala. 1937), abrogated by Ex Parte Harris, 590 So. 2d 285 (Ala. 1991).242. See Gentry, 174 So. 2d at 534; Chapman v. Ry. Fuel Co., 101 So. 879, 881 (Ala. 1924).243. 192 So. 261 (Ala. 1939). 244. Id. at 263.245. See S. 413, 2016 Leg., Reg. Sess. § 12(a) (Ala. 2016).246. Chapman, 101 ......

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