Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton R. Co. v. Thiebaud
177 U.S. 615 (1900)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton R. Co. v. Thiebaud, 177 U.S. 615 (1900)

Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad Company v. Thiebaud

No. 271

Submitted April 21, 1900

Decided May 14, 1900

177 U.S. 615

Syllabus

A record showing an instruction by the Circuit Court directing a jury that the plaintiff is entitled to recover in his action under a state law, upon which the plaintiff relies for recovery, to which instruction a general exception is reserved by the defendant, does not disclose a case in which it is claimed that the law of a state is in contravention of the Constitution of the United States, within the meaning of section 5, of the Act of March 3, 1891, where the record of the circuit court does not affirmatively show that any issue as to the statute was raised by the pleadings, and where the record does not affirmatively show that said exception to said instruction was upon the ground that said statute was in contravention of the Constitution of the United States, or that the constitutionality of said statute was otherwise presented or considered or passed upon by the Circuit Court.

The Act of March 3, 1891, does not contemplate several separate appeals or writs of error, on the merits in the same case and at the same time to or from two appellate courts, and the record in No. 271 falls within this rule.

"This was an action brought by Benj. F. Thiebaud, a citizen of Indiana, as administrator of Chris. Sweetman, deceased, appointed by the Circuit Court of Fayette County, Indiana, against the C.H. & D. R. Co., a corporation and citizen of Ohio, to recover damages for the wrongful death of said Chris. Sweetman, who, while employed as a locomotive engineer by said company, on an engine drawing its pay car, was, without

Page 177 U. S. 616

fault on his part, killed in a collision between his engine and that of a freight train. The collision was caused by the negligence of the conductor and engineer of the freight train. The court charged the jury, among other things, that inasmuch as the deceased had been killed through the negligence of fellow servants, the defendant would probably not be liable at common law, but that it was liable for the negligence charged and admitted under the Act of the General Assembly of Indiana, approved March 4, 1893, entitled 'An Act Regulating the Liability of Railroad and Other Corporations, except Municipal, for Personal Injuries to Persons Employed by Them,' etc. Laws of Indiana, 1893, p. 294; Ind.Rev.Stat. sections 7083-7087. Upon which act the plaintiff relied for recovery; to which charge the defendant excepted."

"The record does not show upon what ground said exception was taken, and does not show that said exception was upon the ground that the statute contravenes the Constitution of the United States, or that the constitutionality of the statute was otherwise raised or considered or decided by the circuit court. The statute is not mentioned in any of the pleadings. The record shows other exceptions taken, duly assigned for error, which do not raise any constitutional question, and which may require the reversal of the judgment of the circuit court without reference to any constitutional question."

"The jury rendered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, and judgment was entered thereon."

"Thereafter the defendant brought the case, by writ of error, to this Court, and assigned for error:"

"1. That the court erred in charging the jury that the defendant was liable under the Act of the General Assembly of Indiana, approved March 4, 1893."

"2. That said act is in contravention of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States."

"3. That said act is in contravention of the Constitution of the State of Indiana, and especially of article 11, section 23, of article 4, sections 19 and 23 thereof."

"4. That the court erred in overruling the defendant's motion to dismiss the action for want of jurisdiction. "

Page 177 U. S. 617

"5. That the court erred in refusing to permit the defendant to put the following question to the witness, Charles M. Cist: 'Where were those personal effects at the time you made your application?'"

"6. That the court erred in ruling out and excluding the testimony offered by the defendant to show that plaintiff's administration was not based upon any personal estate in Fayette County, Indiana, other than the claim sued on."

"Thereupon the defendant in error moved in this court to dismiss the case for want of jurisdiction on the ground that it is a case in which it is claimed that the statute of a state is in contravention of the Constitution of the United States, and that therefore under Section 5 of the Act of Congress approved March 3, 1891, 26 Stat. 826, the writ of error should be taken from the Supreme Court of the United States, and not from this Court."

"The court is in doubt whether the case is within the provisions of said section of the act of Congress, and therefore, upon the foregoing statement of facts, it is ordered that the following question be certified to the Supreme Court of the United States for its instructions:"

"1. Has the circuit court of appeals jurisdiction of a wit of error to the circuit court in a case in which it is claimed that a law of a state is in contravention of the Constitution of the United States, where the record presents other questions not involving the Constitution of the United States?"

"2. Has the circuit court of appeals jurisdiction of a writ of error to the circuit court in a case in which it is claimed that a law of a state is in contravention of the Constitution of the United States, where the record presents other questions not involving the Constitution of the United States, which might require a reversal of the judgment without reference to such constitutional question?"

"3. Does a record showing an instruction by the circuit court directing a jury that the plaintiff is entitled to recover in his action under a state law, upon which the plaintiff relies for recovery, to which instruction a general exception is reserved by the defendant, disclose a case in which it is claimed that the

Page 177 U. S. 618

law of a state is in contravention of the Constitution of the United States within the meaning of section 5 of the Act of March 3, 1891, where the record of the circuit court does not affirmatively show that any issue as to the statute was raised by the pleadings, and where the record does not affirmatively show that said exception to said instruction was upon the ground that said statute was in contravention of the Constitution of the United States, or that the constitutionality of said statute was otherwise presented or considered or passed upon by the circuit court?"

"4. If it be considered that such record in the circuit court does not disclose a case in which a law of a state is claimed to be in contravention of the Constitution of the United States, but such claim is made, so far as the record shows, for the first time in the circuit court of appeals by assignment of error, and is insisted upon at the bar, has the circuit court of appeals jurisdiction in error to hear and determine the constitutional question raised by such claim?"

No. 271 is a writ of error to the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of Ohio to review the judgment referred to in the certificate. In the petition for the writ, defendant set forth that,

"having duly prosecuted the writ of error heretofore allowed by the court to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the plaintiff in this case, being the defendant in error, filed a motion in said circuit court of appeals to dismiss said writ of error upon the ground that the same should have been taken to the Supreme Court of the United States, instead of to the United States circuit court of appeals, and that said circuit court of appeals was therefore without jurisdiction upon said writ of error. Said circuit court of appeals, being in doubt whether it has jurisdiction, has certified certain questions to the Supreme Court of the United States. In view of said proceedings, the defendant, being now in doubt as to whether said writ of error to the United States circuit court of appeals was properly allowed, but without prejudice to said proceeding in error, if it shall hereafter be determined that the same was properly taken, and that the circuit court of appeals has jurisdiction thereof, now prays for a writ

Page 177 U. S. 619

of error to the Supreme Court of the United States, and assigns for error: [here followed the assignment of errors]."

Thereupon the circuit court entered this order:

"This cause came on to be heard upon the defendant's petition for the allowance of a writ of error to the Supreme Court of the United States; on consideration whereof, and it being known to the court that the facts stated in said petition with reference to the writ of error formerly allowed to the circuit court of the United States for the Sixth Circuit are true, and it being doubtful whether a writ of error should be taken to the Supreme Court of the United States or to the United States circuit court of appeals, said petition is now granted, and a writ of error, as prayed, is allowed to the Supreme Court of the United States."

The cases came on to be heard, and were argued and submitted together.

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