Chicago, Indianapolis Louisville Railway Company v. Haynes Hackett

Citation228 U.S. 559,33 S.Ct. 581,57 L.Ed. 966
Decision Date05 May 1913
Docket NumberNo. 889,889
PartiesCHICAGO, INDIANAPOLIS, & LOUISVILLE RAILWAY COMPANY, Plff. in Error, v. HAYNES L. HACKETT
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Messrs. E. C. Field, H. R. Kurrie, and John D. Black for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Morse Ives for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice Lurton delivered the opinion of the court:

This is a personal-injury case. The plaintiff, Haynes L. Hackett, was a yard switchman in the employ of the railroad company. While engaged in switching cars in the yard of the company at Monon, Indiana, on February 4, 1907, he was injured through the negligence of another servant of the company who was his immediate superior as yard foreman. He brought this action in the supreme court of Cook county, Illinois, and recovered a judgment for $30,000, for the loss of both legs. This was affirmed by the appellate court of Illinois, which was the highest court of the state to which the case could be carried.

The plaintiff's declaration contained thirteen counts. A demurrer to the first count was sustained and it was dropped out of the case. The remaining counts were based upon the Indiana act of March 4, 1893 (Acts 1893, p. 294), and particularly the fourth paragraph thereof. The demurrer to these courts was overruled, and the plea of not guilty was entered, upon which issue was joined.

The Indiana statute provides that 'every railroad or other corporation, except municipal, operating in this state, shall be liable for damages for personal injuries sustained by any employee while in its service, the employee being in the exercise of due care and diligence, in the following cases.' One of the cases described was this: 'When such injury was caused by the negligence of any person in the service of such corporation who has charge of any signal, telegraph office, switch yard, shop, roundhouse, locomotive, engine, or train upon a railway.'

Shortly stated, the case alleged was that the plaintiff, while assisting in the switching of certain cars from one track to another, was, through the negligence of the yard foreman, then in control and directing the operation, thrown violently and negligently from one of the cars and run over. The plaintiff in error claimed in the state court that the Indiana statute upon which the action was brought was invalid as a denial to railroad companies of the equal protection of the law guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. This objection was denied, and the ruling is assigned as error.

The constitutionality of the act has been upheld by this court in Tullis v. Lake Erie & W. R. Co. 175 U. S. 348, 44 L. ed. 192, 20 Sup. Ct. Rep. 136, and in Louisville & N. R. Co. v. Melton, 218 U. S. 36,—L.R.A.(N.S.) —, 54 L. ed. 921, 30 Sup. Ct. Rep. 676.

It is, however, contended that neither of the cases cited brought before this court the precise question here presented, namely, that the act violates the 14th Amendment, because upon its face it applies to 'any employee,' thereby embracing in one classification those employees subjected to the hazards incident to the actual operation of railway trains with those in other branches of the service not so subjected, and, therefore, not within the reason for the classification. Upon this assumption it is claimed that the act is one which cannot be upheld as valid as to one class of employees and invalid as to the other, embraced within the single classification, and must therefore be condemned as wholly invalid under the rule applied by this court in Employers' Liability Cases (Howard v. Illinois C. R. Co.) 207 U. S. 463, 52 L. ed. 297, 28 Sup. Ct. Rep. 141. But this argument overlooks the fact that the act in question is an act of state legislation, and that its construction is a matter for the state courts of Indiana. If the supreme court of Indiana has construed the act as not extending to any class of railroad employees except those whose occupation connects them in some way with the movement of trains where they are exposed to the hazards incident to the operation and movement of trains and engines, and the act as thus construed and applied is a valid enactment, we must accept that as the proper interpretation of the act. The single duty of this court would then consist in determining whether the act as thus construed violated the equality clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

In repeated decisions the Indiana supreme court has construed the act as one which cannot be invoked by any class of railroad employees not engaged in some branch of service where they are subjected to the hazards incident to the movement of trains or engines, and held that, as thus limited, the act is valid; Richey v. Cleveland, C. C. & St. L. R. Co. 176 Ind. 542, ——L.R.A.(N.S.) —, 96 N. E. 694; Bedford Quarries Co. v. Bough, 168 Ind. 671, 14 L.R.A.(N.S.) 418, 80 N. E. 529; Indianapolis Traction & Terminal Co. v. Kinney, 171 Ind. 612, 23 L.R.A.(N.S.) 711, 85 N. E. 954; Cleveland, C. C. & St. L. R. Co. v. Foland, 174 Ind. 411, 91 N. E. 594, 92 N. E. 165. Thus the Indiana court, in Pittsburgh, C. C. & St. L. R. Co. v. Rogers, 168 Ind. 483, 81 N. E. 212, said:

'It was held by this court in Pittsburgh, C. C. & St. L. R. Co. v. Montgomery (1898) 152 Ind. 1, 69 L.R.A. 875, 71 Am. St. Rep. 301, 49 N. E. 582; Indianapolis Union R. Co. v. Houlihan (1901) 157 Ind. 494, 54 L.R.A. 787, 60 N. E. 943; Pittsburgh, C. C. & St. L. R. Co. v Lightheiser (1907) 168 Ind. 438, 78 N. E. 1033; Pittsburgh, C. C. & St. L. R. Co. v. Collins (1907) 168 Ind. 467, 80 N. E. 415; Pittsburgh, C. C. & St. L. R. Co. v. Ross (1907) 169 Ind. 3, 80 N. E. 845, that, as applied to railroads, said employers' liability act was not in violation of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, or of any provision of the Constitution of this state. . . . . In Pittsburgh, C. C. & St. L. R. Co. v. Ross, supra, we said: 'The validity of this act, so far as it applies to railroads, was upheld in the case of Pittsburgh, C. C. & St. L. R. Co. v. Montgomery, supra, and that holding has been twice reaffirmed since this appeal was filed, . . . and the constitutionality of the law must be regarded as settled.'

'Following the case of Pittsburgh, C. C. & St. L. R. Co. v. Ross, supra, we hold that the constitutionality of said law must be regarded as settled, and it will not be considered in this case.'

In Indianapolis Traction & Terminal Co. v. Kinney, 171 Ind. 612, 23 L.R.A.(N.S.) 711, 85 N. E. 954, the court said:

'Notwithstanding the language of the statute is 'that every railroad, or other corporation, except municipal, operating in this state, shall be liable for damages for personal injury suffered by any employee while in its service,' it must not for a moment be understood that the benefits of the statute are extended to all employees of a railroad corporation, or to any other class of employees than those whose duties expose them to the peculiar hazards incident to the use and operation of railroads. There is no reason, in fact or fancy, why the benefits of the statute should be extended to the office and shop employees of railroad corporations, or to others removed from the dangers of train service, and denied to the multitude of other workmen engaged in business of like and equal hazard. . . . By this we do not mean that it is essential to the bringing of an employee within the statute that he should be connected in some way with the movement of trains, but it seems sufficient if the performance of his duties brings him into a situation where he is, without fault, exposed to the dangers and perils flowing from such operation and movement, and is by reason thereof injured by the negligence of a fellow servant described in the act.'

That the act, as thus construed and upheld by the highest court or Indiana, does not contravene the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, is settled by the two decisions of this court cited above. But we do not intimate that the act, if construed as applicable to all employees of a railroad company, would be in...

To continue reading

Request your trial
82 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Story
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • 28 December 1981
    ... ... City of Louisville, ... 97 Ky. 364, 30 S.W. 987 (1895); O'Donoghue ... [497 Pa. 304] 178; ... Chicago, I. & L. Ry. Co. v. Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, ... ...
  • US Shoe Corp. v. US
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of International Trade
    • 25 October 1995
    ...passed, for an unconstitutional act is not a law, and can neither confer a right or immunity. ..." Chicago, I. & L.R. Co. v. Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, 566, 33 S.Ct. 581, 584, 57 L.Ed. 966 (1913). When the invalid act is the federal government's unconstitutional exaction of taxes, taxpayers' ri......
  • Dobbert v. Florida
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 17 June 1977
    ... ... 1121, 1125, 30 L.Ed. 178; Chicago, I. & L. Ry. Co. v ... Page 298 ... Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, 566, 33 S.Ct. 581, 584, 57 L.Ed ... ...
  • United States v. United States Coin and Currency 25 8212 26, 1969
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 5 April 1971
    ...law must be treated as having no effect whatsoever from the very date of its enactment. Chicago, I. & L.R. Co. v. Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, 33 S.Ct. 581, 57 L.Ed. 966 (1913); Norton v. Shelby County, 118 U.S. 425, 6 S.Ct. 1121, 30 L.Ed. 178 (1886); Ex parte Siebold, 100 U.S. 371, 376, 25 L.Ed.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: Defending Severability After Murphy, Collins, and Seila Law.
    • United States
    • Case Western Reserve Law Review Vol. 71 No. 1, September 2020
    • 22 September 2020
    ...of course does not formally repeal the law from the U.S. Code...."). (165.) See Chi., Indianapolis, & Louisville Ry. Co. v. Hackett, 228 U.S. 559, 566 (1913) ("That act was therefore as inoperative as if it had never been passed, for an unconstitutional act is not a law, and can neither......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT