State, to Use of Allen v. Pittsburgh & C. R. Co.

Decision Date15 June 1876
PartiesSTATE OF MARYLAND, use of LAURA V. ALLEN and WILLIAM T. ALLEN v. PITTSBURGH AND CONNELLSVILLE RAIL ROAD COMPANY.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

APPEAL from the Circuit Court for Allegany County.

The appeal in this case was taken by the plaintiffs from the action of the Court below overruling their demurrer to the defendant's plea and quashing the writ. The case is stated in the opinion of this Court.

The cause was submitted to BARTOL, C.J., STEWART, BRENT, GRASON ALVEY and ROBINSON, J.

Thomas E. Gonder and A. H. Blackiston, for the appellants.

The appellee is a corporation chartered by the State of Maryland and under its charter may sue and be sued. Act of 1853, ch. 88. And by sec. 14 of said Act, "said Company shall keep in the county of Allegany, in this State a director, officer or other agent of said Company, and if any legal proceedings shall be commenced against said Company in Allegany County, or in the United States Courts in this State, legal process in such proceedings may be served on such director, officer or agent, and such service shall be a good and sufficient service on said Company for all purposes whatsoever."

A personal tort committed against a citizen of Maryland in another State may be redressed by action against the wrong-doer in the Courts of Maryland, whenever he comes within its limits. Northern Central R. W. Co. vs. Scholl's Adm'r, 16 Md., 331. If Thomas Allen had lived, after the injury received, and he could have shown negligence on the part of the appellee or its agents which caused his injury, there is no doubt that he would have had a clear right to sue and maintain his suit against the appellee in this State, but unfortunately he died, and any suit against the appellee by him was forever precluded. The laws of Maryland, however, enacted for the benefit of its citizens, step in and in effect say, that the wrong-doer shall not escape, and although the injured party is dead the right of action shall survive him for the injury done, and his widow and helpless children shall be compensated, so far as money can compensate them for the wrong and injury done their husband and father, no matter where it happens. This is the plain meaning and purpose of Art. 65 of the Code.

In all actions for injuries ex delicto, to the person, or to personal property, the venue is in general transitory and may be laid in any county, though committed out of the jurisdiction of the Court or out of the State. Northern Central Railway Co. vs. Scholl's Adm'r, 16 Md., 331.

The injury complained of in the case at bar is an injury to the person arising ex delicto, hence the case in 16 Md., 331, is applicable, and the Court below erred in overruling the appellant's demurrer and quashing the writ.

R. Chew Jones, for the appellee.

This action cannot be maintained at Common law, because it is a well settled principle of the Common law that all rights of action for injury to the person dies with the person.

The appellants therefore base their claim solely upon the Maryland statute. Code, Art. 65, secs. 1 and 2; Whitford vs. Panama R. R. Co., 23 N. Y., 465, 478; Shearman & Redfield on Negligence, secs. 290, 295; Crowley vs. Panama R. R. Co., 30 Barbour, 99; 2 Hilliard on Torts, 501, note c; Yerton vs. Wisewall, 16 Howard, (N. Y.,) 8; Blake vs. Midland R. R. Co., 10 Eng. Law and Eq., 442; Safford vs. Drew, 3 Duer, 638.

The accident, injury and death, all occurred in the State of Pennsylvania, and the Maryland statute, giving a right of action where the wrongful act results in death, does not and cannot apply to acts done out of the State, and this on the ground that statutes have no extra-territorial force. Whitford vs. Panama R. R. Co., 23 N. Y., 465, 484; Vandeventer vs. N.Y. & N.H. R. R. Co., 27 Barbour, 244, 247; Crowley vs. Panama R. R. Co., 30 Barbour, 99, 110; Woodward vs. M. S. & N. Ind. R. R. Co., 20 Ohio State, 121; Richardson vs. N.Y. Centl. R. R. Co., 98 Mass. 85; Needham vs. Grand Trunk R. R. Co., 38 Vermont, 294, 307; Great Western R. R. Co. vs. Miller, 19 Mich., 305.

The Maryland statute gives a new right and not merely a new remedy. Blake vs. Midland R. R. Co., 10 Eng. Law & Eq., 443.

The jurisdiction of the Court depends upon the place of the accident, and not the place of the death, and in the case at bar both occurred in the State of Pennsylvania. Crowley vs. Panama R. R. Co., 30 Barbour, 99, 106; Needham vs. Grand Trunk R. R. Co., 38 Vermont, 294, 307.

Jurisdiction of the person of the defendant does not include jurisdiction of the subject-matter of the action. Crowley vs. Panama R. R. Co., 30 Barbour, 106; Whitford vs. Panama R. R. Co., 23 N. Y., 465, 480.

ALVEY J., delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an action brought in the name of the State, as legal plaintiff, for the use of the widow and infant child of Thomas Allen, deceased, who was killed while in the employment of the defendants, as fireman on a locomotive engine, in January, 1874. The action is brought under the 65th Article of the Code, secs. 1 and 2, which gives a right of action whenever the death of a person shall be caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another, "and the act, neglect or default is such as would (if death had not ensued) have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damage in respect thereof." The action is required to be brought in the name of the State, for the benefit of the wife, husband, parent, or child, as the case may be, of the person whose death shall have been so caused; "and in every such action, the jury may give such damages as they may think proportioned to the injury resulting from such death to the parties respectively for whose benefit such action shall be brought, and the amount so recovered, after deducting the costs not recovered from the defendant, shall be divided amongst the above mentioned parties, in such shares as the jury by their verdict shall find and direct."

The declaration makes all proper averments to entitle the plaintiffs to maintain the action under the statute; but the defendants have pleaded that the accident and injuries to the deceased, resulting in his death, "happened and occurred in the State of Pennsylvania, and beyond the territorial limits of the State of Maryland." To this plea the plaintiffs demurred; and in connection with the issue of law thus presented, it is admitted by agreement, that both the injury to and the death of Allen occurred in the State of Pennsylvania, and that, at the time of such injury and death, the deceased was a citizen and resident of this State, in the employ of the defendants.

The defendants were incorporated by Acts of the Legislatures of this State and of the State of Pennsylvania, and operate their railroad leading from the city of Cumberland, in Maryland, to the city of Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania.

The question presented is, whether the statute of this State, under which the present action is brought, embraces and can be made to apply to the case of a wrongful act or neglect occurring in another State, whereby death has been caused? The Court below overruled the demurrer, and gave judgment for the defendants, and that judgment, we think, is sustainable both upon reason and authority.

It is very true, as a general proposition, that actions for injuries, ex delicto, to the person, or to personal property, are transitory, and the venue may be laid in any county, though the wrong be committed out of the jurisdiction of the Court, or beyond the territorial limits of the State. Northern Central R. Co. vs. Scholl, 16 Md., 331. But when the wrong...

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