Industrial Commission of Ohio v Rotar

Docket NumberCase No. 226
CourtOhio Supreme Court
Date18 November 1931
United States, Supreme Court of Ohio.

(Marshall, C.J.; Jones, Matthias, Day, Allen, Kinkade, Robinson, Stephenson, JJ.).

Case No. 226
Industrial Commission of Ohio
and
Rotar.
WAR AND NEUTRALITY

War — Effects of — Enemy Aliens — Right to Sue — Operation of Statutes of Limitation — Termination of War — War Between the United States and Austria — Termination by Joint Resolution of Congress.

War — Termination of — War between the United States and Austria — Termination by Joint Resolution of Congress.

The Facts.—The plaintiff was the widow of a workman who was killed in 1919, in the course of his employment, in the United States, which at that date was at war with Austria-Hungary. At all material times the plaintiff herself resided at Straza, in the district of Banat, which was a district of Hungary up to the time of the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. As a result of the Peace Treaty of Trianon, Banat became part of Yugoslavia. Under the Workmen's Compensation statute a two-year period of limitation was provided for claims (Ohio Gen. Code, Sections 1465–72a). The plaintiff's action was filed more than two years after the death of her husband, but within two years after the Joint Resolution of Congress of July 2, 1921 (42 U.S. Stat. at L., 105), terminating the war with Austria. The Industrial Commission dismissed the plaintiff's claim.

On appeal to the Court of Common Pleas, a verdict was entered for the defendant on the ground that the claim had been filed more than two years after the death of the decedent by a citizen of a country which had not been at war with the United States, namely, Yugoslavia.

On appeal to the Court of Appeals this decision was reversed, and on further appeal,

Held (per Allen, J.): that the judgment of the Court of Appeals should be affirmed.

(1) The district in which the plaintiff resided remained a part of Hungary until after the termination of the World War. The plaintiff therefore remained a citizen of Austria-Hungary until the end of the War. It is a universally accepted rule, irrespective of statute, that when a state of war exists an alien enemy cannot prosecute a claim in the courts of a country at war with his own: Hanger v. AbbottUNK, 73 U.S. 532; Colorado Fuel & Iron Co. v. Industrial Commission, 73 Colo. 579. But his right of action is merely suspended until the close of the war...

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