Dayton Coal & Iron Co. v. Barton - 183 U.S. 23 (1901)


U.S. Supreme Court

Dayton Coal & Iron Co. v. Barton, 183 U.S. 23 (1901)

Dayton Coal and Iron Company v. Barton

No. 26

Argued and submitted March 7, 1901

Decided October 21, 1901

183 U.S. 23

ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT

OF THE STATE OF TENNESSEE

Syllabus

Knoxville Iron Co. v. Harbison, ante 183 U. S. 13, followed.

This was an action tried in the Circuit Court of Rhea County, Tennessee, wherein T. A. Barton, a citizen of Tennessee, sought to recover from the Dayton Coal & Iron Company (Limited), a corporation organized under the laws of Great Britain, and doing business as a manufacturer of pig iron and coke in said county. The company owns a store where it sells goods to its employees and other persons. The company also has a monthly pay day, and settles in cash with its employees on said pay day. In the meantime, and to such of its employees as see fit to request the same, it issues orders on its storekeeper for goods.

On March 17, 1899, the Legislature of Tennessee passed an act requiring

"all persons, firms, corporations, and companies using coupons, scrip, punchouts, store orders, or other evidences of indebtedness to pay laborers and employees for labor or otherwise, to redeem the same in good and lawful money of the United States in the hands of their employees, laborers, or a bona fide holder, and to provide a legal remedy for collection of same in favor of said laborers, employees, and such bona fide holders."

This was a suit brought by said Barton to recover as a bona fide holder of certain store orders that had been issued by the defendant company to some of its laborers in payment for labor. The defendant company denied the validity of the legislation as well under the laws and Constitution of Tennessee as the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The plaintiff recovered a judgment against the company in the Circuit Court of Rhea county, and this judgment was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Tennessee, whereupon a writ of error from this Court was allowed by the chief justice of the state supreme court.

Page 183 U. S. 24

MR. JUSTICE SHIRAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

The only question presented for our consideration in this record is the validity, under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, of the act of the Legislature of the State of Tennessee prescribing that corporations and other persons issuing store orders in payment for labor shall redeem them in cash, and providing a legal remedy for bona fide holders of such orders.

In the case of Knoxville Iron Co. v. Harbison, in error to the Supreme Court of Tennessee, decided at the present term, we affirmed the judgment of that court sustaining the constitutional validity of the state legislation in question, and the cause now before us is sufficiently disposed of by a reference to that case.

The only difference in the cases is that, in the former, the plaintiff in error was a domestic corporation of the State of Tennessee, while in the present, the plaintiff in error is a foreign corporation. If that fact can be considered as a ground for a different conclusion, it would not help the present plaintiff in error, whose right as a foreign corporation to carry on business in the State of Tennessee might be deemed subject to the condition of obeying the regulations prescribed in the legislation of the state. As was said in Orient Ins. Co. v. Daggs, 172 U. S. 557, that

"which a state may do with corporations of its own creation it may do with foreign corporations admitted into the state. . . . The power of a state to impose conditions upon foreign corporations is certainly as extensive as the power over domestic corporations, and is fully explained in Hooper v. California, 155 U. S. 648."

We do not care, however, to put our present decision upon the fact that the plaintiff in error is a foreign corporation, nor

Page 183 U. S. 25

to be understood to intimate that state legislation, invalid as contrary to the Constitution of the United States, can be imposed as a condition upon the right of such a corporation to do business within the state. Home Ins. Co. v. Morse, 20 Wall. 445; Blake v. McClung, 172 U. S. 239, 172 U. S. 254.

The judgment of the Supreme Court of Tennessee is affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE BREWER and MR. JUSTICE PECKHAM dissent.



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