St Louis Southwestern Railway Company of Texas v. Robert Alexander

Citation33 S.Ct. 245,227 U.S. 218,57 L.Ed. 486
Decision Date03 February 1913
Docket NumberNo. 738,738
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Messrs. Lawrence Greer and F. C. Nicodemus, Jr., for plaintiff in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 219-221 intentionally omitted] Mr. Phelan Beale for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice Day delivered the opinion of the court:

The defendant in error, Alexander, filed his complaint against the plaintiff in error, St. Louis Southwestern Rail- way Company of Texas, a Texas corporation, in the supreme court of New York county, to recover damages for loss sustained by him, arising from the alleged negligence of the railway company in failing to properly ice and re-ice certain poultry shipped from Waco, Texas, to New York city, under a bill of lading given by the railway company to the shipper, the Texas Packing Company. Upon the petition of the railway company the case was removed to the circuit court of the United States for the southern district of New York. That court denied a motion to vacate and quash service of summons and to dismiss for want of jurisdiction, and upon trial judgment was entered for the defendant in error. The district court, succeeding to the jurisdiction of the circuit court, allowed a writ of error, and certified to this court the question of jurisdiction under § 238 of the Judicial Code. 36 Stat. at L. 1087, chap. 231, U. S. Comp. Stat. Supp. 1911, p. 128.

When the plaintiff in error received the poultry from the Texas Packing Company at Waco on November 25, 1910, for shipment to New York city, it delivered to the packing company a through bill of lading in which it acknowledged receipt of the property, and agreed to carry the freight 'to its usual place of delivery at said destination, if on its road, otherwise to deliver to another carrier on the route to said destination,' and in which was set out, among others, the following conditions:

'Sec. 2. In issuing this bill of lading this company agrees to transport only over its own line, and except as otherwise provided by law, acts only as agent with respect to the portion of the route beyond its own line.

'Sec. 3. Claims for loss, damage, or delay must be made in writing to the carrier at the point of delivery or at the point of origin, within four months after delivery of the property. . . . Unless claims are so made, the carrier shall not be liable.'

The route, as shown by the bill of lading, was 'Cotton Belt to East St. Louis, care of Big 4 E. St. Louis, care of Nickel Plate Route.' On December 5, 1910, the freight was delivered in a damaged condition to the defendant in error, to whom the bill of lading had been indorsed.

Alexander brought suit on July 10, 1911, against the plaintiff in error in the supreme court of New York county, and caused summons to be served upon Lawrence Greer, one of the directors of the plaintiff in error, residing in New York, in accordance with the laws of New York. Subsequently the case was removed to the United States circuit court on the ground of diversity of citizenship. The plaintiff in error filed a motion to vacate and quash the attempted service of summons, and to dismiss the cause 'for want of jurisdiction over the person of St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company of Texas, for the reason that said St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company of Texas is a foreign corporation, organized and existing under the laws of the state of Texas, is not doing business within the state of New York, is not found within said state, and is not amenable to service therein, and has not waived due service of summons herein by voluntary appearance or otherwise.' The circuit court denied the motion, holding that the service was in accordance with the New York laws, provided the action arose in that state, and that the action did so arise, for, although the contract was made in Texas, it called for delivery in New York, and the bill of lading required that the claim be presented to the carrier at the point of delivery; and holding further that, upon the authority of Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Riverside Mills, 219 U. S. 186, 55 L. ed. 167, 31 L.R.A.(N.S.) 7, 31 Sup. Ct. Rep. 164, and Pennsylvania Lumbermen's Mut. F. Ins. Co. v. Meyer, 197 U. S. 407, 49 L. ed. 810, 25 Sup. Ct. Rep. 483, under the Carmack amendment to the Hepburn act (34 Stat. at L. 584, 595, chap. 3591, § 7, U. S. Comp. Stat. Supp. 1911, pp. 1288, 1307), the plaintiff in error was doing business in the state of New York to the extent that the Federal courts acquired jurisdiction of a removed cause in which summons had been served in accordance with the state laws.

After an answer had been filed by the plaintiff in error, trial was had in the district court (the Judicial Code having become effective), the plaintiff in error duly renewing, at the opening of the trial and subsequent stages, its motions to vacate and quash the service and to dismiss the action for want of jurisdiction, which was denied upon the authority of the prior order. After final judgment had been entered upon the verdict for the plaintiff, the district court certified to this court the question of jurisdiction.

The record discloses the following facts in regard to the relationship existing between the plaintiff in error and the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company and their activities in the state of New York: The St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company, a Missouri corporation, and the plaintiff in error, comprise what is commonly known as the 'Cotton Belt Route.' running from St. Louis, Missouri, through the states of Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana into Texas, with nearly one half of the mileage in Texas. A map of the two roads contained in their 'Official List,' showing the route of the system, makes no distinction whatsoever between the trackage routes of the two lines.

All the stock of the plaintiff in error, save qualifying shares, is owned by the Missouri company, and the funded debt, mortgages, and other obligations and assets of the plaintiff in error are owned and controlled by the Missouri company. In a certain application to the New York Stock Exchange, requesting it to list securities of the Missouri company, made by the secretary of that company, it was stated that the proceeds were to be used for equipping and extending certain branches of the plaintiff in error. Certain banks and trust companies in New York city act as registrars, trustees, transfer agents, and agents for the two companies, the obligations being secured by mortgages upon the properties of both corporations.

The general officers and agents of one company hold similar positions with the other. The annual report of the plaintiff in error and the Missouri company are combined, and the Texas company referred to as a part or division of the Missouri corporation. Throughout the report reference is made to the 'entire system,' and in various respects the two lines are treated as one system.

It further is shown that upon the door of an office in New York city...

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