Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

of Congress, which makes negligence the test of the carrier's liability or obligation. That judgment was in turn reversed by the Court of Errors and Appeals, which, although assuming “that the conclusion of the Supreme Court as to the character” of the deceased's employment at the time of the injury "was justified by the facts proved,” regarded the federal act as without bearing, because affording no remedy and imposing no liability in the absence of causal negligence. 88 N. J. L. 619.

The questions presented for decision are these: First, whether the federal act is regulative of the carrier's liability or obligation in every instance of the injury or death of one of its employees in interstate commerce, or only in those instances where there is causal negligence for which the carrier is responsible. Second, whether the facts proved sustain the conclusion that the deceased was employed in interstate commerce at the time of the injury. Third, whether by reason of the state statute the carrier became bound contractually to make compensation in this instance, even though it came within the federal act.

The first question is fully considered in New York Central R. R. Co. v. Winfield, the opinion in which has been just announced, ante, 147, and it suffices here to say that, for the reasons there given, we are of opinion that the federal act proceeds upon the principle which regards negligence as the basis of the duty to make compensation and excludes the existence of such a duty in the absence of negligence, and that Congress intended the act to be as comprehensive of those instances in which it excludes liability as of those in which liability is imposed. It establishes a rule or regulation which is intended to operate uniformly in all the States, as respects interstate commerce, and in that field it is both paramount and exclusive.

The second question must be given an affirmative an

[blocks in formation]

swer.

In leaving the carrier's yard at the close of his day's work the deceased was but discharging a duty of his employment. See North Carolina R. R. Co. v. Zachary, 232 U. S. 248, 260. Like his trip through the yard to his engine in the morning, it was a necessary incident of his day's work and partook of the character of that work as a whole, for it was no more an incident of one part than of another. His day's work was in both interstate and intrastate commerce, and so when he was leaving the yard at the time of the injury his employment was in both. That he was employed in interstate commerce is therefore plain, and that his employment also extended to intrastate commerce is for present purposes of no importance.

The third question requires some notice of the New Jersey statute. It consists of two parts. One conforms to the principle which regards negligence as the basis of liability and excludes liability in the absence of negligence. In its details, however, that part differs materially from the federal act. The other conforms to a different principle which rejects negligence as a basis of liability and requires compensation to be made by the employer wherever the injury or death of the employee is an incident of the service in which he is employed. This part is described as "elective” and is not to be applied unless the employer and the employee shall have agreed, expressly or impliedly, to be bound thereby and to surrender their rights to any other method, form or amount of compensation or determination thereof." Respecting the mode of manifesting such an agreement or the contrary, it is provided that every contract of hiring “shall be presumed to have been made" with reference to this part of the statute and, unless the contract or a notice from one party to the other contain "an express statement in writing” to the contrary, it “shall be presumed” that the parties “have agreed to be bound” by this part of the statute. There was no express agreement in this instance and there is no

[blocks in formation]

basis for regarding the carrier as in any way bound by this part of the statute, save as it provides that an agreement to be bound by it shall be presumed in the absence of a declaration to the contrary. But such a presumption cannot be indulged here, and this for the reason that by the federal act the entire subject, as respects carriers by railroad and their employees in interstate commerce, was taken without the reach of state laws. It is beyond the power of any State to interfere with the operation of that act, either by putting the carriers and their employees to an election between its provisions and those of a state statute or by imputing such an election to them by means of a statutory presumption. The third question therefore must be answered in the negative.

It follows that the Court of Errors and Appeals erred in failing to give controlling effect to the federal act.

Judgment reversed.

MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS and MR. JUSTICE CLARKE dissent.

LANE, SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR, v.

HOGLUND.

ERROR TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE DISTRICT OF

COLUMBIA.

No. 365. Argued April 11, 1917.-Decided May 21, 1917.

Section 7 of the Act of March 3, 1891, c. 561, 26 Stat. 1095, 1099, lays

upon the Secretary of the Interior a plain duty to cause a patent to be issued upon a homestead entry when no contest or protest proceeding has been initiated and no order has been made, in his Department, for the purpose of challenging the validity of the entry, within two years from the issuance of the final receiver's receipt.

[blocks in formation]

a

An adverse report by a deputy supervisor of a National Forest, chal

lenging a homestead entry within the forest for insufficiency of residence and cultivation, but merely filed in the General Land Office and not acted on until after the two year limitation period had expired, Held not a "pending contest or protest" within the meaning

of § 7 of the Act of March 3, 1891, supra. Notwithstanding its reluctance to award or sustain a writ of mandamus

against an executive officer, the court is constrained to do so where the duty sought to be enforced is plain and nondiscretionary and

the situation exigent. 44 App. D. C. 310, affirmed.

a

The case is stated in the opinion.

Mr. Assistant Attorney General Kearful, with whom Mr. S. W. Williams was on the brief, for plaintiff in error.

Mr. F. W. Clements, with whom Mr. B. E. Hinton was on the brief, for defendant in error.

MR. JUSTICE VAN DEVANTER delivered the opinion of the court.

This is a petition for a writ of mandamus against the Secretary of the Interior. In the court of first instance the writ was refused, but the Court of Appeals directed that it be granted, 44 App. D. C. 310, and our jurisdiction arises out of the fact that the construction of a statute of the United States and the duty of the Secretary of the Interior thereunder are drawn in question. The statute is the following provision in § 7 of the Act of March 3, 1891, c. 561, 26 Stat. 1095, 1099:

“That after the lapse of two years from the date of the issuance of the receiver's receipt upon the final entry of any tract of land under the homestead, timber-culture, desert-land, or preëmption laws, or under this act, and when there shall be no pending contest or protest against the validity of such entry, the entryman shall be entitled

Opinion of the Court.

244 U.S.

to a patent conveying the land by him entered, and the same shall be issued to him."

What is meant by a "pending contest or protest" is the question under the statute. The facts are not in dispute and are these:

In 1902 Svan Hoglund settled upon and made preliminary entry under the homestead law of a tract of public land in the Eureka land district in California. In 1905 the land was included within a national forest reserve by a proclamation of the President, 34 Stat. 3001, which contained the following excepting clause:

Excepting from the force and effect of this proclamation all lands which may have been, prior to the date hereof, embraced in any legal entry or covered by any lawful filing duly of record in the proper United States Land Office, or upon which any valid settlement has been made pursuant to law, and the statutory period within which to make entry or filing of record has not expired; Provided, that this exception shall not continue to apply to any particular tract of land unless the entryman, settler or claimant continues to comply with the law under which the entry, filing or settlement was made.

In due time thereafter, and after due notice by publication of his purpose so to do, Hoglund submitted final proof of compliance with the homestead law and of his right to obtain the title. The proof was accepted as satisfactory by the local officers and on August 6, 1907, a receiver's receipt and a register's certificate upon final entry were regularly issued to him.

May 29, 1909, a report from a deputy forest supervisor recommending the cancellation of the entry “on account of non-residence and lack of cultivation” was received at the General Land Office. The report indicated that the entryman was a single man, and had a three-room house, a small barn and some fencing on the land; that he had three acres plowed and under cultivation; that the land

« AnteriorContinuar »