Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Ry. Co. v. Gonzales
151 U.S. 496 (1894)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Ry. Co. v. Gonzales, 151 U.S. 496 (1894)

Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio

Railway Company v. Gonzales

No. 158

Argued December 11, 1893

Decided January 29, 1894

151 U.S. 496

Syllabus

A domestic corporation, incorporated under the laws of Texas, a state divided into more than one federal district, is, under the state law and the federal laws as to the bringing of suits and actions in federal courts, a citizen and inhabitant of that district in the state within which the general business of the corporation is done and where it has its headquarters and general offices.

A railway company incorporated under the laws of Texas, in which there is more than one federal district, and having its headquarters and principal

Page 151 U. S. 497

offices in one of those districts, is an inhabitant of that district and cannot be said to be an inhabitant of the other federal district in the state, although it operates its line of railroad through it and maintains freight and ticket offices and stations in it.

If an alien desires to commence an action or bring a suit against a citizen of the United States, he must resort to the domicil of the defendant in order to bring it.

In re Hohorst,150 U. S. 653, distinguished from this case.

Southern Pacific Co. v. Denton,146 U. S. 202, and Mexican Central Railway v. Pinkney,149 U. S. 194, followed in holding that a statute of a state which makes an appearance in behalf of a defendant, although in terms limited to the purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction of the court, a waiver of immunity from jurisdiction by reason of nonresidence is not applicable, under Rev.Stat. § 914, to actions in a circuit court of the United States held within the state.

This was an action at law instituted in the Circuit Court for the Western District of Texas at El Paso by the defendant in error, Victor Gonzales, alleged to be "a citizen of the State of Chihuahua, in the Republic of Mexico," against the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway Company to recover damages to the amount of $4,999 for personal injuries.

The petition alleged the plaintiff to be

"a citizen of the State of Chihuahua, in the Republic of Mexico, and that the defendant is a corporation duly incorporated under the laws of the State of Texas, and is a citizen thereof, operating and running cars on the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway track from the City of Houston to the City of El Paso, in the State of Texas, and is a common carrier of freight and passengers for hire, . . . and has and keeps an office and an agent in the said City of El Paso, Texas, for the transaction of its business, with W. E. Jesup as its local agent in said El Paso."

The petition further alleged that

"on and prior to the 29th day of July, 1889, and ever since that time, the defendant has been engaged in propelling trains and cars on said railway track for the transportation of freight and passengers for hire, as aforesaid, from the City of Houston, in the State of Texas, into and through the County of Jeff Davis, in said state, and through the County of El Paso into the City of El Paso, Texas."

The petition further alleged as the cause of plaintiff's action that after having paid his fare to an agent

Page 151 U. S. 498

of the defendant, and entered as a passenger on its train from Valentine Station to El Paso, he was forcibly and violently ejected from the train while moving at the rate of fifteen miles an hour, thereby causing him to fall to the ground with such force that his leg was broken, and he was thereby crippled for life, for which he prayed judgment in the sum of $4,999.

Defendant appeared specially for the purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction of the court, and pleaded in abatement

"that nevertheless, while it admits that defendant operates a line of railway through the county where this suit is pending, and maintains a ticket and freight office and depot, and has an agent on whom process under the laws of Texas may be served there, the said defendant is not an inhabitant of the judicial district in which the suit is pending; that it is a corporation duly incorporated and existing under the laws of Texas, having its principal office, habitat, and domicile in the City of Houston, Harris County, Texas, and beyond and not within this judicial district, but within the Eastern District of Texas,"

wherefore the defendant prayed judgment whether the court had jurisdiction, etc.

Plaintiff demurred to this plea, setting up that the defendant is an inhabitant of the Eastern District of Texas.

The case came on to be heard upon this plea in abatement and demurrer, and the court, being of the opinion that the law was for the plaintiff, and that the court had jurisdiction, sustained the demurrer, proceeded to a trial of the case upon the merits, and submitted it to a jury, who rendered a verdict for the plaintiff in the sum of $900.

Defendant sued out this writ of error under the authority of the Act of February 25, 1889. c. 236, 25 Stat. 693, authorizing this Court to review questions of jurisdiction of the circuit court without reference to amount.

Page 151 U. S. 499

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