O'Connor v. St. Louis Transit Co.

Decision Date19 June 1906
Citation198 Mo. 622,97 S.W. 150
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Appeal from St. Louis Circuit Court; Jesse A. McDonald, Judge.

Action by John J. O'Connor against the St. Louis Transit Company. From a judgment in favor of plaintiff, defendant appeals. Affirmed.

This cause is brought to this court by appeal from a judgment of the circuit court of St. Louis in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant for $41.66. This action was commenced before a justice of the peace of the city of St. Louis. The statement filed by plaintiff before the justice alleged that he was an attorney and counselor at law; that defendant was a corporation, operating a street railway, and that on or about the 30th day of June, 1902, one Emma French sustained injuries to her person while alighting from one of defendant's cars, which she alleged to be due to the negligence of defendant's servants in charge of said car, whereby she became the "possessor of a subsisting claim and cause of action for $10,000 damages": that thereafter, on the 8th day of August, 1902, said Emma French entered into a written contract with this plaintiff, employing and instructing him to enter and prosecute an action in her favor for said $10,000 damages against defendant, and that Mrs. French agreed that plaintiff should receive for his services for entering and prosecuting said action one-third of all of any sum of money that should be recovered in said suit, or by or through any compromise of said suit, without regard to the time at which said compromise should be made; that on the 9th day of August, 1902, plaintiff entered an action at law in favor of said Mrs. French on her alleged cause of action; that thereafter, on the 3d day of November, 1902, plaintiff served notice in writing of said contract of employment by Mrs. French, and that said action had been instituted in the circuit court of St. Louis, Mo., also showing the proportion of the recovery that plaintiff was to receive, either by suit or compromise of the same; and further alleged that on the 25th day of November, 1902, Mrs. French and the defendant herein, without the knowledge or consent of this plaintiff, compromised said action and the said claim on which said action was based for the sum of $125, which sum was paid to Mrs. French by the defendant, and said Emma French then and there entered into a stipulation for the dismissal of said cause at her costs, which said stipulation defendant filed in said court, and the prosecution of said cause was dismissed, whereby plaintiff has been deprived of his fee. The insolvency of Emma French is alleged, and judgment is prayed under the act of February 25, 1901. A suit was brought for the recovery of the sum of $41. The trial before the justice resulted in a judgment for $41.66 in favor of the plaintiff, from which judgment the defendant appealed by filing an affidavit and bond within the time required, and the cause was tried de novo in the circuit court on May 5, 1903. There is no necessity for reproducing the evidence introduced at the trial of this cause in the circuit court, for appellant admits in its brief that the evidence preserved in the bill of exceptions substantially sustains the averments of the plaintiff's statement of this case, and there are no disputed facts in the case. Upon the submission of the cause to the court there was a finding and judgment for the plaintiff in the sum of $41.66. Motions for new trial and in arrest of judgment were timely filed and were by the court overruled. From this judgment defendant prosecuted its appeal to this court, and the record is now before us for consideration.

Boyle & Priest and Geo. W. Easley, for appellant. John B. Dempsey, for respondent.


It is apparent from the record in this cause that the trial court made the order granting the appeal to this court for the reason that defendant challenges the constitutionality of the act upon which this proceeding is predicated. The contentions of appellant upon this constitutional question may thus be briefly stated: (1) That the act of February 25, 1901, upon which his action is based, is unconstitutional and void because in contravention of article 4 of section 28 of the Constitution of Missouri, which substantially provides that no act shall contain more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in the title. (2) It is insisted that said act of February 25, 1901, is contrary to and violative of the provisions of article 2, § 30, of the Constitution of this state, which provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. (3) It is urged that this act is unconsitutional and void for the reason that it is in contravention of article 2, § 20, of the Constitution of Missouri, which substantially provides that "no private property can be taken for private use, with or without compensation, unless by the consent of the owner, except for private ways of necessity, and except for drains and ditches across the lands of others for agricultural and sanitary purposes, in such manner as may be prescribed by law; and that whenever an attempt is made to take private property for a use alleged to be public, the question whether the contemplated use be really public shall be a judicial question, and as such judicially determined, without regard to any legislative assertion that the use is public." (4) It is contended by appellant that the act of February 25, 1901, is unconstitutional and void for the reason that it contravenes the provisions of section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

This act of February 25, 1901, the constitutionality of which is challenged by appellant, was Senate Bill 9, headnotes, "Attorneys at Law; Lien upon Cause of Action," followed by the following title: "An act to prevent frauds between attorneys, clients and defendants; making agreements between attorney and client a lien upon the cause of action." There is no subject that has more frequently had the attention of this court than the one in which acts of the General Assembly have been challenged for failure to conform its legislation to requirements of section 28, art. 4, of the Constitution of this state, which substantially provides that no bill shall contain more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title. We deem it unnecessary, however, to review the numerous cases upon this subject, but shall be content with a brief reference to the rules to be deduced from the adjudications as to the objects and purposes sought by the framers of the Constitution in the enactment of such constitutional provisions.

It has been repeatedly stated by this court that the objects and purposes of this constitutional provision was to prevent incongruous, disconnected matters, which had no relation to each other, from being joined in one bill; however, it has always been recognized that all matters that are germane to the principal subject, and have a natural connection with it, might properly be incorporated in the same bill. In Ewing v. Hoblitzelle, 85 Mo. 64, it was ruled: "Where all the provisions of a statute fairly relate to the same subject, have a natural connection with it, are the incidents or means of accomplishing it, then the subject is single, and, if it is sufficiently expressed in the title, the statute is valid." This rule was approved by Judge Black in State ex rel. Attorney General v. Miller, 100 Mo. 439, 13 S. W. 677, citing, in support of such approval, City of St. Louis v. Tiefel, 42 Mo. 578, State v. Matthews, 44 Mo. 523, State v. Miller, 45 Mo. 495, City of Hannibal v. County of Marion, 69 Mo. 571, and State ex rel. v. Mead, 71 Mo. 268, as substantially announcing the same rule as approved in Ewing v. Hoblitzelle, supra. To the same effect is State ex rel. v. Bronson, 115 Mo. 271, 21 S. W. 1125, where it was ruled that this section of the Constitution should be reasonably and liberally construed and applied; due regard being had to its object and purpose. It was again announced in that case that if all the provisions of the bill have a natural relation and connection, then the subject was single, and this, too, though the bill contains many provisions. In Lynch v. Murphy, 119 Mo. 163, 24 S. W. 774, the rule announced in the foregoing cases was approved and followed.

It is insisted by appellant that this act embraces more than one subject, and is therefore violative of...

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  • Thompson v. St. Louis-S.F. Ry. Co.
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • March 14, 1934
    ...law, while a statute which relates to particular persons or things of a class is special.' [Cases cited.]" In O'Connor v. St. Louis Transit Co., 198 Mo. 622, 97 S.W. 150, speaking of the Attorney's Lien Act, this court said: "This act undertakes to cover a certain class of persons engaged i......
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