Hoxie v. N.Y., N. H. & H. R. Co.

CourtSupreme Court of Connecticut
Writing for the CourtBALDWIN, C. J.
Citation73 A. 754,82 Conn. 352
PartiesHOXIE v. NEW YORK, N. H. & H. R. CO.
Decision Date20 July 1909
73 A. 754
82 Conn. 352

HOXIE
v.
NEW YORK, N. H. & H. R. CO.

Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut.

July 20, 1909.


73 A. 755

Appeal from Superior Court, New London County; Ralph Wheeler, Judge.

Action by William H. Hoxie against the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company. From a judgment for defendant rendered after sustaining a demurrer to the complaint, plaintiff appeals. Affirmed.

Action by an inhabitant of Connecticut brought to the superior court for New London county against the New York, New

73 A. 756

Haven & Hartford Railroad Company, described as a corporation organized under the laws of Connecticut, for an injury received by him while acting as a train hand on its railroad at Auburn, in Massachusetts. The complaint alleged an injury received while the plaintiff was coupling cars in a train running from Norwich, Conn., to Worcester, Mass., and due to the negligence of a fellow servant in control of another train of the defendant running between Hartford, Conn., and Worcester; and claimed damages "under and by force of the act of Congress approved April 22, 1908 (35 Stat. 65, c. 149), relating to liability of common carriers by railroad engaged in commerce between the states." A demurrer to the complaint was sustained, and judgment rendered for the defendant.

Hadlai A. Hull and Frank L. McGuire, for appellant.

Edward D. Robbins and Michael Kenealy, for appellee.

E. O. Harrison and Philip Doherty, for the United States.

BALDWIN, C. J. (after stating the facts as above). The plaintiff bases his action solely on the act of Congress of April 22, 1908 (35 Stat. 65, c 149). His injury having been due to the negligence of a fellow servant, could throw no liability on the defendant had it occurred in this state, and were the question of liability to be determined by the common law of Connecticut. It did occur in Massachusetts, and he does not allege what the law of Massachusetts in respect to that question is. It is therefore to be presumed to be the same as that of this state. Lockwood v. Crawford, 18 Conn. 370.

If the plaintiff has a right of action, it must be based on the law affecting the relations of the parties at the time and place of the injury. As to the merits and rights involved in actions, the law of the place where they originated is to govern. Wood v. Watkinson, 17 Conn. 500, 510, 44 Am. Dec. 562. This is true of tort actions, at least when a wrong having been done, actionable under the law of the place of its commission, there is nothing in the public policy obtaining at the forum to stand in the way of granting a remedy. 2 Wharton on Private International Law (3d Ed.) § 478b. The law of Massachusetts in respect to any claims on the defendant growing out of the plaintiff's injury being presumably the same as that of Connecticut, there can be no recovery unless by virtue of the act of Congress which, if it affects proceedings in state courts, governs in each state alike. Congress has what may be described in general terms as plenary power (Const. art. 1, § 8) "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes." Elsewhere in the Constitution certain limitations are specifically prescribed, and others may exist by virtue of the necessary implications from the dual system of political government—imperium in imperio—which that instrument created. By its provisions the sovereignty of each of the states is as carefully guarded as that of the United States. Each was to remain free to maintain its own executive, legislative, and judicial magistracies. Nothing could be done by Congress to impair this right in any state so long as it preserved a republican form of government. The power to maintain a judicial department is one, incident to the inherent sovereignty of each state, "in respect to which the state is as independent of the general government as that government is independent of the states." As to that power, "the two governments are upon an equality." The Collector v. Day, 11 Wall. 113, 126, 20 L. Ed. 122. The judicial power of the United States is by the first section of their Constitution (article 3) "vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish," and by the second section extends, among other things, "to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made under their authority." "The better opinion is that the second section was intended as a constitutional definition of the judicial power which the Constitution intended to confine to courts created by Congress; in other words, that such power extends only to the trial and determination of 'cases' in courts of record, and that Congress is still at liberty to authorize the judicial officers of the several states to exercise such power as is ordinarily given to officers of courts not of record; such, for instance, as the power to take affidavits, to arrest and commit for trial offenders against the laws of the United States, to naturalize aliens, and to perform such other duties as may be regarded as incidental to the judicial power rather than a part of the judicial power itself." It was therefore held in the case from which this observation has been quoted that an act of Congress Investing justices of the peace appointed under the laws of a state with authority to arrest and temporarily imprison deserters from a merchant vessel was not objectionable on the ground that it gave them a judicial power belonging to the United States. Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U. S. 275, 279, 280, 17 Sup. Ct. 326, 41 L. Ed. 715.

More recently the Supreme Court of the United States has stated that the first section of article 3 grants "the entire judicial power of the nation"; that the second section is neither "a limitation nor an enumeration," but "a definite declaration, a provision that the judicial power shall extend to—that is, shall include—the several matters particularly mentioned, leaving unrestricted the general grant of the entire judicial power"; and that "all the judicial power which the

73 A. 757

nation was capable of exercising" was vested in the tribunals described in the first section. Kansas v. Colorado, 206 U. S. 46, 82, 83, 27 Sup. Ct. 655, 51 L. Ed. 956. This power certainly included any authority which might be given them by Congress to take cognizance of judicial proceedings under statutes of the United States. "It is a sound principle that in every well-organized government the judicial power should be coextensive with the legislative, so far at least as private rights are to be enforced by judicial proceedings." Kendall v. United States, 12 Pet. 524, 618, 9 L. Ed. 1181.

We find, then, under our American system of government, each state possessing legislative power over most subjects, and having courts that may exercise a commensurate judicial power, and the United States possessing legislative power over a few subjects and having courts that may exercise a commensurate judicial power. The act of Congress now in question creates a statutory right of action. It is one not existing at common law, nor in chancery. It is one which, if warranted by the Constitution of the United States, may, under their general laws regulating the jurisdiction of the Cirsuit Courts of the United States (Act Aug. 13, 1888, c. 866, 25 Stat. 433 [U. S. Comp. St. 1901, p. 508]), whenever damages exceeding $2,000 are claimed, be made the subject of judicial proceedings in the courts of the United States as a suit of a civil nature arising under the law's of the United States without reference to the citizenship of the parties.

In view of these circumstances and conditions, two questions present themselves at the threshold of the present case. The first is whether Congress intended by this act to authorize the institution of an action under it in the courts of the states. The second is whether, if such were its intention, it had power to make it incumbent on the state courts to assume jurisdiction.

The main provisions of the act are these:

"Section 1. That every common carrier by railroad while engaging in commerce between any of the several states and territories, or between any of the states and territories, or between the district of Columbia or any of the states or territories and any foreign nation or nations, shall be liable in damages to any person suffering injury while he is employed by such carrier in such commerce, or, in case of the death of such employé to his or her personal representative for the benefit of the surviving widow or husband and children of such employé and, if none, then of such employé's parents; and. if none, then of the next of kin dependent upon such employé, for such injury or death resulting in whole or in part from the negligence of any of the officers, agents, or employés of such carrier, or by reason of any defect or insufficiency due to its negligence, in its cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed, works, boats, wharves, or other equipment."

"Sec. 3. That in all actions hereafter brought against any such common carrier by railroad under or by virtue of any of the provisions of this act to recover damages for personal injuries to an employé, or where such injuries have resulted in his death, the fact that the employé may have been guilty of contributory negligence shall not bar a recovery, but the damages shall be diminished by the jury in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to such employé: Provided, that no such employé who may be injured or killed shall be held to have been guilty of contributory negligence in any case where the violation by such common carrier of any statute enacted for the safety of employés contributed to the injury or death of such employé.

"Sec. 4. That in any action brought against any common carrier under or by virtue of any of the...

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45 practice notes
  • State v. Radzvilowicz, No. 14734
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • 30 Septiembre 1997
    ...crime by both state and federal legislation." State v. Scarano, 149 Conn. 34, 39, 175 A.2d 360 (1961); Hoxie v. New York, N.H. & H.R. Co., 82 Conn. 352, 365, 73 A. 754 (1909); see State v. Moeller, Page 786 178 Conn. 67, 71, 420 A.2d 1153, cert. denied, 444 U.S. 950, 100 S.Ct. 423, 62 L.Ed.......
  • Miles v. Illinois Cent Co, No. 272
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 30 Marzo 1942
    ...is proposed in order that there shall be no excuse for courts of the States to follow in the error of Hoxie v. N.Y., N.H. & H.R.R. Co. (82 Conn. 352) (73 A. 754) (17 Ann.Cas. 324) in which the court declined jurisdiction upon the ground, inter alia, that Congress did not intend that jurisdi......
  • BNSF Ry. Co. v. Tyrrell, No. 16–405.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 30 Mayo 2017
    ...and that state courts had no obligation to entertain FELA claims. See Brief for Respondents 23 (citing Hoxie v. New York, N.H. & H.R. Co., 82 Conn. 352, 73 A. 754 (1909) ). As Justice McKinnon recognized in her dissent from the Montana Supreme Court's decision in Nelson's and Tyrrell's case......
  • State v. City of Sheridan, 849
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 21 Enero 1918
    ...N. S. 537; Chicago M. & St. P. R. Co. v. Westby, 178 F. 619, 102 C. C. A. 65, 47 L. R. A. N. S. 97; Hoxie v. New York, N. H. & H. Ry. Co., 82 Conn. 352, 73 A. 754, 17 Ann. Cas. 324; Ballentine v. Willey, 3 Idaho, 496, 31 P. 994, 95 A. S. R. 17, and note; Chicago &c. R. Co. v. Jones, 149 Ill......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
45 cases
  • State v. Radzvilowicz, No. 14734
    • United States
    • Appellate Court of Connecticut
    • 30 Septiembre 1997
    ...crime by both state and federal legislation." State v. Scarano, 149 Conn. 34, 39, 175 A.2d 360 (1961); Hoxie v. New York, N.H. & H.R. Co., 82 Conn. 352, 365, 73 A. 754 (1909); see State v. Moeller, Page 786 178 Conn. 67, 71, 420 A.2d 1153, cert. denied, 444 U.S. 950, 100 S.Ct. 423, 62 L.Ed.......
  • Miles v. Illinois Cent Co, No. 272
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 30 Marzo 1942
    ...is proposed in order that there shall be no excuse for courts of the States to follow in the error of Hoxie v. N.Y., N.H. & H.R.R. Co. (82 Conn. 352) (73 A. 754) (17 Ann.Cas. 324) in which the court declined jurisdiction upon the ground, inter alia, that Congress did not intend that jurisdi......
  • BNSF Ry. Co. v. Tyrrell, No. 16–405.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 30 Mayo 2017
    ...and that state courts had no obligation to entertain FELA claims. See Brief for Respondents 23 (citing Hoxie v. New York, N.H. & H.R. Co., 82 Conn. 352, 73 A. 754 (1909) ). As Justice McKinnon recognized in her dissent from the Montana Supreme Court's decision in Nelson's and Tyrrell's case......
  • State v. City of Sheridan, 849
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 21 Enero 1918
    ...N. S. 537; Chicago M. & St. P. R. Co. v. Westby, 178 F. 619, 102 C. C. A. 65, 47 L. R. A. N. S. 97; Hoxie v. New York, N. H. & H. Ry. Co., 82 Conn. 352, 73 A. 754, 17 Ann. Cas. 324; Ballentine v. Willey, 3 Idaho, 496, 31 P. 994, 95 A. S. R. 17, and note; Chicago &c. R. Co. v. Jones, 149 Ill......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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