Minneapolis Ry Co v. Rock, 454

Decision Date13 May 1929
Docket NumberNo. 454,454
PartiesMINNEAPOLIS, St. P. & S. S. M. RY. CO. v. ROCK
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. Henry S. Mitchell and John E. Palmer, both of Minneapolis, Minn., for petitioner.

Mr. H. H. Patterson, of Chicago, Ill., for respondent.

Mr. Justice BUTLER delivered the opinion of the Court.

Respondent sued petitioner in the circuit court of Cook county, Illinois, under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, U. S. C. tit. 45, §§ 51-59 (45 USCA §§ 51-59), to recover damages for personal injuries sustained by him while employed in petitioner's railroad yard at Kolze, in that state. There was a verdict for $15,000 in favor of respondent, and the judgment entered thereon was affirmed by the Appellate Court of the First District. Rock v. M., St. P. & S. S. M. R. Co., 247 Ill. App. 600. Petitioner applied to the state Supreme Court to have the case certified to it for review and determination, but the application was denied.

Respondent asserts that the judgment is not one of the highest court of the state in which a decision in the suit could be had, and that therefore this court has no jurisdiction.

Paragraph 120, c. 110, Cahill's Revised Statutes of Illinois, the material parts of which are printed in the margin,1 makes judgments of the Appellate Courts final in all cases except those reviewable in the Supreme Court as a matter of right under the state Constitution, those in which a majority of the judges of the Appellate Court make certificates of importance and grant appeals, and those brought up on writ of certiorari issued by the Supreme Court. This case is one in which the Supreme Court may issue writ of certiorari. Kenna v. Calumet, etc., R. Co. 206 Ill. App. 17, 44. The statute does not require one seeking review to apply to the judges of the lower court before presenting petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court. It is held by the state courts that a denial of petition for certiorari in a case where a certificate of importance has not been granted makes the judgment of the Appellate Court final. While such denial is not an approval of the reasons on which the Appellate Court rests its judgment, it is an approval of the conclusion reached by it, 'and is therefore, in effect, an affirmance of the judgment.' Soden v. Claney, 269 Ill. 98, 102, 109 N. E. 661, 663; People v. Grant, 283 Ill. 391, 397, 119 N. E. 344. It would be unreasonable to require a defeated party to apply to the judges of the lower court for a certificate of importance and appeal after the Supreme Court had so approved the judgment.

The judgment is reviewable here. 'Whenever the highest court of a state by any form of decision affirms or denies the validity of a judgment of an inferior court, over which it by law can exercise appellate authority, the jurisdiction of this court to review such decision, if it involves a federal question, will, upon a proper proceeding, attach.' Williams v. Bruffy, 102 U. S. 248, 255 (26 L. Ed. 135). And see Gregory v. McVeigh, 23 Wall. 294, 306, 23 L. Ed. 156.

We come to the merits. Respondent was an imposter. His true name is Joe Rock. He obtained employment and remained at work by means of deception and fraud. October 1, 1923, he applied for employment as a switchman in petitioner's yard at Kolze. In accordance with a rule and the practice of petitioner, respondent was sent to the company's physician for physical examination. It was found that he had been treated surgically for ulcer of the stomach and removal of the appendix, and that at the time of the examination he had a rupture. His application was rejected because of his condition. A few days later, respondent under the name of John Rock, representing that he had not theretofore applied, again made application for such employment. Petitioner's superintendent was deceived as to respondent's identity and accepted him, subject to examination to ascertain whether he was physically fit for such work, and sent him to the physician to be examined. Then respondent procured one Lenhart to impersonate him and in his place to submit to the required examination. The physician found Lenhart's condition satisfactory, and believing that he was the applicant, reported favorably on the application. As a result of the deception petitioner gave respondent employment, and it did not learn of the fraud until after December 24, 1924, the date on which respondent was injured.

We are called upon to decide whether, notwithstanding the means by which he got employment and retained his position, respondent may maintain an action under the Federal Employers' Liability Act.

The act abrogates the fellow-servant rule, restricts the defenses of contributory negligence and assumption of risk, and extends liability to cases of death. And respondent in this action seeks, in virtue of its provisions and despite the rules of the common law, to hold petitioner liable for negligence of his fellow servants and notwithstanding his own negligence may have contributed to cause his injuries. Since the decision of this court in the Second Employers' liability Cases, 223 U. S. 1, 48, 51, 32 S. Ct. 169, 56 L. Ed. 327, 38 L. R. A. (N. S.) 44, it has been well understood that the protection of interstate commerce and the safety of those employed therein have direct relation to the public interests which Congress by that act intended to promote. Philadelphia B. & W. R. Co. v. Schubert, 224 U. S. 603, 614, 32 S. Ct. 589, 56 L. Ed. 911. Watson v. St. Louis, I. M. & S. R....

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