North Carolina R. Co. v. Zachary
232 U.S. 248 (1914)

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U.S. Supreme Court

North Carolina R. Co. v. Zachary, 232 U.S. 248 (1914)

North Carolina Railroad Company v. Zachary

No. 144

Argued December 17, 18, 1913

Decided February 2, 1914

232 U.S. 248

Syllabus

In order to bring a case within the terms of the Federal Employers' Liability Act of 1908, the defendant must have been, at the time of the occurrence, engaged as a common carrier in interstate commerce and the injured employee must have been employed by such carrier in such commerce.

Where the defendant is a common carrier engaged in interstate commerce and the employee for whose injuries the suit is brought was employed by the defendant in such commerce, the Federal Employers' Liability Act of 1908 governs to the exclusion of the state statutes.

Where the state court improperly refuses to apply the provisions of the Federal Employers' Liability Act in an action for injuries to an employee of a common carrier while both employer and employee were engaged in interstate commerce and the result might have been different, the judgment must be reversed.

The persons related to the deceased employee as specified in the Employers' Liability Act of 1908 are the beneficiaries of an action prescribed by the act, and the damages are to be based upon the pecuniary loss sustained by such beneficiaries. .

Whether the question of employment by the deceased employee in interstate commerce was properly raised in the state court as a bar to the action in accordance with the local code is a question of state practice, and if the highest court of the state assumed or decided that the record presented that question and decided it against the party asserting it, this Court has jurisdiction to review the judgment under § 237, Judicial Code.

A railroad company, leasing its entire line, which is wholly intrastate, to another railroad company doing an interstate business creates the latter its agent and becomes a common carrier by railroad engaged in interstate commerce, and if, under the local law, the lessor remains responsible for the lessee's acts, the Employers' Liability Act of 1908

Page 232 U. S. 249

controls as to liability for injuries to employees of the lessee engaged in interstate commerce.

Where, upon the evidence, any essential matter bearing on the question of whether an employee of a railroad company was at the time of the injury engaged in interstate commerce is in doubt, it should be submitted to the jury under proper instructions.

Where the state court refused to submit questions to the jury on the ground that there was no evidence to sustain the federal right asserted, this Court will analyze the evidence to the extent necessary to give plaintiff in error the benefit of such federal right if it was improperly denied. Southern Pacific Co. v. Schuyler,227 U. S. 601.

When a freight train for an intrastate point is being made up of cars including some from a train which started from another state, it is a reasonable inference that such cars were being carried forward as a part of a through movement of interstate commerce.

Hauling empty cars from one state to another is interstate commerce within the meaning of the Employers' Liability Act of 1908.

The Employers' Liability Act is in pari materia with the Safety Appliance Act, and this Court, following its rulings in regard to the latter, holds that the hauling of empty cars from one state to another is interstate commerce within the meaning of the act. Johnson v. Southern Pacific Co.,146 U. S. 1.

Acts of an employee in preparing an engine for a trip to move freight in interstate commerce, although done prior to the actual coupling up of the interstate cars, are acts done while engaged in interstate commerce.

Although absent temporarily from his train for a short time for a purpose not inconsistent with his duty to his employer, a railroad employee may still be on duty and engaged in interstate commerce within the meaning of the Employers' Liability Act of 1908.

156 N.C. 496 reversed.

The facts, which involve the construction of the Employers' Liability Act of 1908 and its application to employes engaged in hauling interstate cars between intrastate points, and also to the owner of an intrastate railroad which it has leased to a common carrier engaged in interstate commerce, are stated in the opinion.

Page 232 U. S. 254

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