State of Missouri St Louis Ry Co v. Taylor

Citation45 S.Ct. 47,69 L.Ed. 247,266 U.S. 200,42 A. L. R. 1232
Decision Date17 November 1924
Docket NumberNo. 89,89
PartiesSTATE OF MISSOURI ex rel. ST. LOUIS, B. & M. RY. CO. v. TAYLOR, Circuit Judge of City of St. Louis
CourtUnited States Supreme Court

Messrs. M. U. Hayden, Edward J. White, and James F. Green, all of St. Louis, Mo., for plaintiff in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 201-202 intentionally omitted] Mr. J. L. London, of St. Louis, Mo., for defendant in error.

[Argument of Counsels from pages 203-205 intentionally omitted] Mr. Justice BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.

The American Fruit Growers, Inc., a Delaware corporation with the usual place of business in Missouri, brought an action against the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railway Company in an inferior court of Missouri. Jurisdiction was asserted solely by reason of the garnishment of traffic balances due from a connecting interstate carrier having a place of business in Missouri. The Brownsville Company is a Texas corporation, operates its railroad solely in that state, has no place of business in Missouri, and has not consented to be sued there. The cause of action sued on consisted of three claims of a consignee for damages to freight originating in Texas on lines of the Brownsville Company and shipped on through bills of lading to points in other states.

The Brownsville Company did not enter an appearance, general or special. Instead, it instituted in the Supreme Court of Missouri an application for a writ of prohibition—the proceeding here under review—praying that the judge of the inferior court be enjoined from taking cognizance of the pending action because he lacked jurisdiction. The highest court of the state denied relief. 298 Mo. 474, 251 S. W. 383. The case is here on writ of error, and also on certiorari. 263 U. S. 696, 44 S. Ct. 132, 68 L Ed. 511. The suggestion was made, at the argument, that this court is without jurisdiction, because the judgment below was not final. 263 U. S. 696, 44 S. Ct. 132, 68 L. Ed. a writ of prohibition is an independent adversary suit which was finally determined by the judgment under review. Detroit & Mackinac Ry. Co. v. Michigan Railroad Commission, 240 U. S. 564, 570, 36 S. Ct. 424, 60 L. Ed. 802. The writ of error must, however, be dismissed for another reason. See Stadelman v. Miner, 246 U. S. 544, 38 S. Ct., 359, 62 L. Ed. 875.

The claim that the inferior court of Missouri lacked jurisdiction of the action for damages is rested on two grounds. One contention is that the Missouri attachment law, as construed and applied, is void under the rule of Davis v. Farmers' Co-operative Equity Co., 262 U. S. 312, 43 S. Ct. 556, 67 L. Ed. 996, and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. Wells, 265 U. S. 101, 44 S. Ct. 469, 68 L. Ed. 928. The facts of this case differ vitally from those involved there. Here, the plaintiff consignee is a resident of Missouri—that is, has a usual place of business within the state; the shipment out of which the cause of action arose was of goods deliverable in Missouri;1 and, for aught that appears, the negligence complained of occurred within Missouri. To require that, under such circumstances, the foreign carrier shall submit to suit within a state to whose jurisdiction it would otherwise be amenable by process of attachment does not unreasonably burden interstate commerce.

The other contention is more strenuously urged. It is argued that the cause of action on which the consignee sues is the liability of the initial carrier for a loss occurring through the negligence of a connecting carrier; that this liability arises out of a federal law. Carmack Amendment, June 29, 1906, c. 3591, § 7, pars. 11, 12, 34 Stat. 584 595 (Comp. St. §§ 8604a, 8604aa); that the conditions under which the federal right may be enforced are the same whether the plaintiff proceeds in the state court or the federal court; that original jurisdiction could not have been obtained by attachment in a federal court for Missouri, because personal service could not be made upon the Brownsville Company, Ex parte Railway Co., 103 U. S. 794, 26 L. Ed. 461; Big Vein Coal Co. v. Read, 229 U. S. 31, 33 S. Ct. 694, 57 L. Ed. 1053; and that, therefore, no court of the state could entertain a suit to enforce the claim.

The argument is unsound. Congress created the right of action. It might have provided that the right shall be enforceable only in a federal court. It might have provided that state courts shall have concurrent jurisdiction only of those cases which, by the applicable federal law, could, under the same circumstances, have been commenced in a federal court for the particular state. But Congress did neither of these things. It dealt solely with the substantive law. As it made no provision concerning the remedy, the federal and the state courts have concurrent jurisdiction. Galveston, etc., Ry. Co. v. Wallace, 223 U. S. 481, 490, 32 S. Ct. 205, 56 L. Ed. 516. The federal right is enforceable in a ...

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