Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. Dennis - 224 U.S. 503 (1912)
U.S. Supreme Court
Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. Dennis, 224 U.S. 503 (1912)
Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Railway Company v. Dennis
Submitted March 6, 1912
Decided April 29, 1912
224 U.S. 503
The county court in Texas, being the highest court of the state to which the case could be carried, considering the amount involved, held that a railroad company was liable not only for the damages claimed, but also for an attorney's fee under Chapter 47, Laws of Texas, 1909. The railroad company sued out a writ of error from this Court, having insisted in the state court that the statute violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the federal Constitution. Before the case was reached in this Court, the highest court of the state in another case adjudged the statute to be violative of a provision in the state constitution and void. That fact being brought to the attention of this Court, held that:
The case not having been finally terminated, the right to the attorney's fee is still sub judice, and effect must be given by this Court to the intervening decision of the highest state court and, as to dismiss the writ would leave the judgment to be enforced as rendered, the proper procedure is to vacate the judgment and remand the case to the county court so that it may give effect to the intervening decision of the highest state court.
In the exercise of it appellate jurisdiction over the courts of the several states, this Court is not absolutely confined to the consideration and decision of the federal questions, but may inquire whether, owing to any intervening event, such question have ceased to be material, and dispose of the case in the light of that event.
The facts are stated in the opinion.