Smith v. St. Louis & Southwestern Ry. Co.
181 U.S. 248 (1901)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Smith v. St. Louis & Southwestern Ry. Co., 181 U.S. 248 (1901)

Smith v. St. Louis & Southwestern Railway Company

No. 156

Submitted January 31, 1901

Decided April 22, 1901

181 U.S. 248

Syllabus

Article 5043c of the Revised Statutes of Texas, 1895, provides:

"It shall be the duty of the commission provided for in article 5043a to protect the domestic animals of this state from all contagious or infectious diseases of a malignant character, whether said diseases exist in Texas or elsewhere, and for this purpose they are hereby authorized and empowered to establish, maintain and enforce such quarantine lines and sanitary rules and regulations as they may deem necessary. It shall also be the duty of said commission to cooperate with livestock quarantine commissioners and officers of other states and territories and with the United States Secretary of Agriculture in establishing such interstate quarantine lines, rules, and regulations as shall best protect the livestock industry of this state against Texas or splenetic fever. It shall be the duty of said commission, upon receipt by them of reliable information of the existence among the domestic animals of the any malignant disease, to go at once to the place where any such disease is alleged to exist and make a careful examination of the animals believed to be affected with any such disease, and ascertain, if possible, what, if any, disease exists among the livestock reported to be affected, and whether the same is contagious or infectious, and if said disease is found to be of a malignant, contagious, or infectious character, they shall direct and enforce such quarantine lines and sanitary regulations as are necessary to prevent the spread of any such disease. And no domestic animals infected with disease or capable of communicating the same, shall be permitted to enter or leave the district, premises, or grounds so quarantined except by authority of the commissioners. The said commission shall also, from time to time, give and enforce such directions and prescribe such rules and regulations as to separating, feeding and caring for such diseased and exposed animals as they shall deem necessary to prevent the animals so affected with such disease from coming in contact with other animals not so affected. And the said commissioners are hereby authorized and empowered to enter upon any grounds or premises to carry out the provisions of this act."

Held that this statute, as construed and applied, in this case, is not in conflict with the Constitution of the United States.

The prevention of disease is the essence of a quarantine law. Such law

Page 181 U. S. 249

is directed not only to the actually diseased, but what has become exposed to disease.

This case involves the constitutionality of certain quarantine regulations of the State of Texas. The laws of Texas provide for the creation of a livestock sanitary commission, consisting of three members appointed by the Governor, and prescribe their duty. The particular provisions which are material to the case are inserted in the margin. *

The Governor of the state issued the following proclamation:

"Whereas the Livestock Sanitary Commission of Texas

Page 181 U. S. 250

has this day recommended the adoption of the following regulations:"

" The Livestock Sanitary Commission of the State of Texas have been reliably informed that the cattle, mules, and horses in the southern portion of Jefferson County, State of Texas, are affected with disease known as charbon or anthrax, and are liable to impart such disease to cattle, mules, and horses ranging in upper portion of Jefferson and other counties, from this time forth to the 15th day of November, 1897, no cattle, mules, or horses are to be transported or driven north or west of Taylor and Salt Bayous, said bayous running across the southern portion of Jefferson County, State of Texas. This order is given for the purpose of quarantining all cattle, mules, and horses south and east of said Taylor and Salt Bayous. The Texas Livestock Commission has reason to believe that charbon or anthrax has or is liable to break out in the State of Louisiana; from this time forth until the 15th day of November, 1897, no cattle, mules, or horses are to be transported or driven into the State of Texas from the State of Louisiana. The Livestock Sanitary Commission of the State of Texas hereby order that any violation of any of the aforesaid rules and regulations by moving of any cattle, mules, or horses north of said bayous or out of Louisiana into the State of Texas is contrary to said rules and regulations, and shall be an offense, and punishable as provided by the laws of the State of Texas."

"Now, therefore, I, C.A. Culberson, Governor of Texas, in conformity with the provisions of chapter 7, title 102, of the Revised Statutes of Texas of 1895, do hereby declare that the quarantine lines, rules, and regulations set forth in the above-recited order of the Livestock Sanitary Commission of Texas shall be in full force and effect from and after this date."

"In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the state to be affixed at Austin, this 5th day of June, A.D. 1897."

"C.A. Culberson"

"Governor of Texas"

In consequence of this proclamation, the railway company

Page 181 U. S. 251

refused to deliver certain cattle to their owners, of whom the plaintiff in error was one, which it had received as freight from a connecting carrier, and which had been delivered to the latter in the State of Louisiana. The facts, or as many of them as is necessary to state, are as follows:

The shipment of cattle was made upon a through bill of lading issued by the St. Louis & Southwestern Railway Company at Plain Dealing, La., for Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas, and was a through and continuous shipment. The cattle arrived at Forth Worth on the 28th of August, 1897. The owners were ready to receive them, and tendered the amount of freight due thereon. The tender was rejected and the delivery of the cattle refused. The cattle remained in the pens of the plaintiff in error, the stockyards at Fort Worth refusing to receive them on account of the proclamation of the Governor, and permission, which was asked by the railway company of the Livestock Sanitary Commission, to deliver them to their owners was also refused on account of the Governor's proclamation. Thereafter the railway company shipped the cattle back to Texarkana, to the line of railway from which they were received, by which line they were returned to Plain Dealing, and there tendered to the shippers, who refused to receive them. Thereupon they were sold, after proper advertising, and the proceeds of the sale, less pasturage at Plain Dealing, were tendered to the owners, which was also refused. At the time of the shipment, the Livestock Sanitary Commission had recommended the adoption of the following regulation with reference to Louisiana cattle:

"The Texas Livestock Commission has reason to believe that charbon or anthrax has or is liable to break out in the State of Louisiana, and from this time forth until the 15th day of November, 1897, no cattle, mules, or horses are to transported or driven into the State of Texas from the State of Louisiana."

The quarantine established (if valid) was in full force at the time of the shipment of the cattle. The bill of lading contained stipulations as to a measure of damages in case of a total loss of the cattle, and other provisions, which, as they do not raise federal questions, we are not concerned with on this record.

Page 181 U. S. 252

The trial court held that--

"1. The quarantine regulations above mentioned, established by the Governor of the state, is a regulation of or an interference with interstate commerce in that its effect is to prohibit the importation of all cattle from the State of Louisiana into the State of Texas, whether affected with or capable of communicating the disease mentioned in said proclamation or not, and is therefore void as being in contravention of Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution of the United States."

"Had the Livestock Sanitary Commission of the state found upon investigation that charbon or anthrax had broken out among the entire cattle of the State of Louisiana, and that all cattle of the State of Louisiana were liable to communicate either of said diseases to cattle of the State of Texas, and had said proclamation of the Governor been based upon said finding, then I think it would have been in law a police regulation of no greater scope than necessary to the protection of cattle in the State of Texas, and therefore valid, even though it did interfere with interstate commerce."

It also held that the stipulation in the contract of shipment limiting the damages at a fixed sum per head was void, and gave judgment for the actual cash value of the cattle, less freight charges. The judgment amounted to $578.10.

The judgment was reversed by the court of civil appeals, and thereupon the chief justice of that court granted this writ of error. Before the commencement of the action, the plaintiff in error became the vendee of the interests of the other owners.

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