Chadwick v. Kelley
187 U.S. 540 (1903)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Chadwick v. Kelley, 187 U.S. 540 (1903)

Chadwick v. Kelley

No. 63

Argued November 3, 1902

Decided January 6, 1903

187 U.S. 540

Syllabus

The statutes of Louisiana and the ordinances of the City of New Orleans which provide and regulate the method for paving streets at the cost of the owners of abutting lots, as such statutes and ordinances have been construed by the Supreme Court of Louisiana, are not obnoxious, under the facts of this case to the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Where an ordinance of the City of New Orleans and specification for the paving of a street require the contractor to employ only bona fide resident citizens of the City of New Orleans as laborers, a resident citizen of New Orleans who is not one of the laborers, excluded by the ordinance from employment and who does not occupy any representative relation to them, cannot have a lien on his property for his pro rata share of the improvements invalidated on the ground that citizens of Louisiana and of each and every state are deprived of their privileges and immunities under article IV, § 2, of, and the Fourteenth Amendment to, the Constitution of the United States.

If a person owning property affected by the assessment for the work done under such ordinance wishes to raise such question on the ground that the ordinance is prejudicial to his property rights because confining the right to labor to resident citizens increases the cost of the work, he must raise the question in time to stay the work in limine.

Page 187 U. S. 541

The serious duty of condemning state legislation as unconstitutional and void cannot be thrown upon this Court except at the suit of parties directly and certainly affected thereby.

In April, 1897, John M. Kelly filed his petition in the the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans against Edmund H. Chadwick, to enforce payment of a lien on a certain square of ground in the City of New Orleans, created and arising out of a contract between one A. J. Christopher and said city for paving Hagan Avenue. The petition alleged due completion of the work, an assignment or transfer by Christopher of all his rights and claims under the contract to the petitioner, and a liability of Chadwick for the amount of $638.80, with interest thereon from September 24, 1896, and also alleged that, for the payment of said sum he had by law a lien and pledge upon said property.

Chadwick answered this petition, wherein he pleaded the general issue and certain special pleas, in one of which he denied that his property was benefited by the paving, and alleged that, if it was so benefited, he could only be made to pay the amount of benefit to an increased value of property, and that no personal judgment should be rendered against him. He also filed, in September, 1899, a supplemental answer in which, among other things, he alleged that the ordinance under which the work was done required the contractor to employ only bona fide resident citizens of the City of New Orleans as laborers on the work, thus depriving the citizens of the state and of each and every State of the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states, secured to them by the Constitution of the United States, which, by the second section of its fourth article, provides that the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of the citizens of the several states, and he also alleged that the ordinance was likewise illegal and unconstitutional because it imposed a liability on the property owner, irrespective of the question whether or not his was benefited or damaged by the pavement, and he alleges that the paving of the street in front of his property had been of no benefit to it, and that the rendition of any judgment against him would be taking his private property for public purposes,

Page 187 U. S. 542

contrary to the Constitution of the State of Louisiana and to that of the United States.

Evidence was taken, and the cause was so proceeded in that, on March 5, 1900, judgment was rendered against the defendant, Chadwick, in the sum of $638.80, with interest from September 24, 1896, with costs of suit, with recognition of plaintiff's lien and privilege for the payment thereof on the said property, the same to be sold and the proceeds to be applied to the payment of plaintiff's claim.

A suspensive appeal was thereupon allowed to the Supreme Court of Louisiana, and that court, on February 4, 1901, affirmed the judgment of the trial court, and subsequently allowed a writ of error to bring the cause to this Court.

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