New York, L.E. and W. R. Co. v. Estill - 147 U.S. 591 (1893)
U.S. Supreme Court
New York, L.E. and W. R. Co. v. Estill, 147 U.S. 591 (1893)
New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad Company v. Estill
Argued February 3, 1893
Decided March 6, 1893
147 U.S. 591
Two suits at law against a railroad company, incorporated by New York, were brought in the Circuit Court of Saline County, Missouri, by two different plaintiffs, to recover damages for injury by the company, as a common carrier, through negligence, to live cattle transported by it. The damages occurred from a collision which took place in Ohio. The cattle were being transported from Massachusetts to Missouri. The process of the court was served in St. Louis, Missouri, on a city passenger agent of the defendant, in its business office there, who had charge of it at the time, no chief officer of the defendant being found in St. Louis at the time. By a petition in each suit by the defendant, which stated that it appeared only for the purpose of making the application, the suit was removed into the circuit court of the United States because of diverse citizenship. The defendant then moved in the latter court in each suit to quash the process on the ground that it conferred no jurisdiction on the state court over the defendant. The motion was overruled. Both cases were then tried before the same jury. In one case, the verdict was for $8,750 damages and $2,362.50 interest thereon at 6 percent per annum from the time the suit was brought, and in the other case for $44,000 damages, and $11,880 interest thereon. In the first case, judgment was entered for $11,112.50, with interest from the date of the verdict, and in the second case for $50,000 and like interest, the plaintiffs having voluntarily remitted $5,880 because the petition claimed only $50,000 damages. There was only one bill of exceptions, covering all matters in the two suits and one writ of error and one citation and one supersedeas bond and one transcript of record. This Court took cognizance of the two cases.
The state court acquired jurisdiction of the cases under subdivision 4 of § 3489 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri of 1879, and § 3481 of the same Revised Statutes.
The cases on that subject in the courts of Missouri reviewed.
Whether the defendant waived any objection to the service of the process in the state court by appearing therein and filing a petition for the removal of the cause into the federal court, quaere.
A large number of the cattle being cows with unborn calves, which were lost through their premature births caused by the collision, the defendant was liable for deterioration in the value of such cows caused by
such abortions, although it was not shown that the defendant knew that the cows were with calf.
Detached sentences in a charge to a jury cannot be selected as grounds of objection, but must be read in connection with the whole charge.
The cases having been tried in the court below on the theory that the value of the cattle at their place of destination in Missouri was the proper basis for fixing the damages, the point that their value at the terminus in Ohio of the defendant's road was the proper basis cannot be taken for the first time in this Court.
It was proper to show that some of the cattle died or lost their calves after their final arrival in Missouri, from the effects of the collision.
The proper rule of damages was the difference between the market value of the cattle, in the condition in which they would have arrived but for the negligence of the defendant, and their market value in the condition in which, by reason of such negligence, they did arrive.
It was not material whether the plaintiffs intended to keep the cattle upon their farms for breeding purposes or to sell them upon the market, the depreciation in value of the cattle being the same in either case.
The court having instructed the jury that the burden was upon the plaintiffs to show that the abortions were the direct result of the collision, and the jury having found in favor of the plaintiffs on that question, and the bill of exceptions containing all the evidence in the case on either side, and there being sufficient evidence to sustain the verdict, this Court cannot review it on the weight of the evidence.
There is no ground for holding that the plaintiffs ought to have traced each animal and to have shown the amount received for it when sold.
It was improper, under the statutes of and decisions in Missouri, for the jury to allow interest on the damages from the time suit brought, and as the jury stated, in each verdict, the amount of interest allowed, this Court reduced the judgments by striking out the interest and ordering judgments to be entered for the amounts of the damages, with interest from the entry, and costs, the costs of this Court to be paid one-half by the plaintiff in error and the other half by the defendants in error.
The case is stated in the opinion.