Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. Co. v. Gainey - 241 U.S. 494 (1916)


U.S. Supreme Court

Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. Co. v. Gainey, 241 U.S. 494 (1916)

Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company v. Gainey

No. 453

Submitted April 19, 20, 1916

Decided June 5, 1916

241 U.S. 494

ERROR TO THE COURT OF APPEALS

OF THE STATE OF KENTUCKY

Syllabus

Minneapolis & St. Louis R. Co. v. Bombolis, ante, p. 241 U. S. 211, followed to the effect that the Seventh Amendment does not apply to actions brought in the state courts under the Federal Employers' Liability Act.

Chesapeake & Ohio Ry. v. Kelly, ante, p. 241 U. S. 485, followed to the effect that, in estimating the amount of damages recoverable under the Employers' Liability Act, the interest-bearing capacity of a present award must be considered, and the whole loss sustained by the beneficiaries during the period that the benefits cover cannot be included in the verdict without rebate or discount.

162 Ky. 427 reversed.

The facts, which involve the application of the Seventh Amendment to cases in the state court under the Employers' Liability Act, the construction of that act, and the validity of a judgment thereunder, are stated in the opinion.

Page 241 U. S. 495

MR. JUSTICE PITNEY delivered the opinion of the Court.

This was an action under the Employers' Liability Act of Congress of April 22, 1908, as amended April 5,

Page 241 U. S. 496

1910 (. 149, 35 Stat. 65, c. 143, 36 Stat. 291). It was brought to recover damages for the death of Richard Dwyer, caused by the negligence of the railroad company, while he was in its employ in interstate commerce. The sole beneficiary was decedent's widow, who originally qualified as administratrix and brought the action, but has died since the allowance of the present writ of error.

Laying aside a contention based upon the

Seventh Amendment to the federal Constitution, which has been disposed of in Minneapolis & St. Louis R. Co. v. Bombolis, ante, p. 241 U. S. 211, the only question raised relates to the method adopted in ascertaining the damages. The jury returned a verdict for $16,000. On appeal to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, it was insisted that this amount was grossly excessive, and was the result of erroneous instructions to the jury. It was contended that the verdict of $16,000, if placed at interest, would yield an annual income greater than the amount the widow would have received had she lived, and would yet leave her the principal to dispose of at the time of her death. The court overruled this contention on the authority of Ches. & Ohio Ry. v. Kelly, 160 Ky. 296, where the same court held that, in such a case, the whole loss is sustained at the time of intestate's death, and is to be included in the verdict without rebate or discount. A reading of the opinion of the Court of Appeals in the present case (162 Ky. 427) makes it evident that it was only upon this theory that the court was able to reach a conclusion sustaining the verdict. Since we have held, in Ches. & Ohio Ry. v. Kelly's Admx., this day decided, ante, p. 241 U. S. 485, that the theory is erroneous, it results that the judgment here under review must be

Reversed, and the cause remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.



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