Missouri, Kansas & Texas Ry. Co. v. Harris - 234 U.S. 412 (1914)
U.S. Supreme Court
Missouri, Kansas & Texas Ry. Co. v. Harris, 234 U.S. 412 (1914)
Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company v. Harris
Submitted February 24, 1914
Decided June 8, 1914
234 U.S. 412
Missouri, Kansas & Texas Ry. v. Cade, 233 U. S. 642, followed to effect that the Texas Statute of 1909 allowing an attorney fee in certain cases for claims of less than a specified amount is not unconstitutional under the due process or equal protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment.
A state police regulation designed to promote the payment of small but well founded claims and to discourage litigation in respect thereto, and which only incidentally includes claims arising out of interstate commerce, does not constitute a direct burden on interstate commerce, and is not, in the absence of legislation by Congress on the subject, repugnant to the commerce clause or otherwise in conflict with federal authority. Atlantic Coast Line v. Mazursky, 216 U. S. 122.
When Congress has exerted its paramount legislative authority over a particular subject of interstate commerce, state laws upon the same subject are superseded.
The mere creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and the grant to it of a measure of control over interstate commerce, does not, in the absence of specific action by Congress or the Commission, interfere with the police power of the states as to matters otherwise within their respective jurisdictions and not directly burdening interstate commerce, even though such commerce may be incidentally affected. Southern Ry. Co. v. Reid, 22 U. S. 424.
While the Carmack Amendment supersedes state legislation on the subject of the carrier's liability for loss of interstate shipments, it does not interfere with a state statute incidentally affecting the remedy for enforcing that liability, such as a moderate attorney fee in case of recoverable contested claims for damages. Atlantic Coast Line v. Riverside Mills, 219 U. S. 186, distinguished.
The Texas Statute of 1909 allowing a reasonable attorney's fee as a
part of the costs in suit on contested but proper claims of less than $200 is not unconstitutional a applied to claim for loss on interstate shipments, nor is it inconsistent with any of the provisions of the Act to Regulate Commerce.
The facts, which involve the constitutionality of a statute of the State of Texas allowing an attorney's fee in certain actions based on claims for small amounts against railway companies, are stated in the opinion.