Pope v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co.
345 U.S. 379 (1953)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Pope v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 345 U.S. 379 (1953)

Pope v. Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Co.

No. 322

Argued January 16, 1953

Decided April 27, 1953

345 U.S. 379

Syllabus

1. A Georgia trial court sustained a general demurrer to respondent's suit to enjoin petitioner from prosecuting a suit against respondent in an Alabama state court under the Federal Employers' Liability Act. The State Supreme Court reversed, holding that Georgia law gave Georgia courts power to enjoin Georgia residents from bringing vexatious suits in foreign jurisdictions. Under Georgia procedure, petitioner could have returned to the Georgia trial court and interposed some other defense to respondent's suit for injunction; but petitioner conceded that his case rested solely upon his federal claim, and that he had no other defense to interpose.

Held: under these particular circumstances, the decision of the Georgia Supreme Court was "final," within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1257, and this Court has jurisdiction over this case. Pp. 345 U. S. 380-383.

2. Under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, petitioner sued respondent, an interstate railroad, in an Alabama state court for injuries sustained during the course of his employment -- although the injury occurred in Georgia, which was also the place of petitioner's employment and residence. Respondent sued in a Georgia state court to enjoin petitioner from prosecuting his suit in Alabama, alleging that petitioner deliberately sought to "harass" respondent by subjecting it to the burden and expense of defending the claim in a distant forum.

Held: under § 6 of the Act, petitioner had a right to sue in Alabama, where respondent was doing business, and the Georgia court was without power to enjoin prosecution of the suit in an Alabama state court. Pp. 345 U. S. 383-387.

(a) Section 6 displaces the traditional power of a state court to enjoin its citizens, on the ground of oppressiveness, from suing under the Act in the courts of another State. Miles v. Illinois Central R. Co.,315 U. S. 698. P. 345 U. S. 383.

(b) The provision of 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) that,

"For the convenience of parties and witnesses, in the interest of justice, a district court may transfer any civil action to any other district or division where it might have been brought"

is applicable only to cases brought in federal courts, and does not grant to a state

Page 345 U. S. 380

court any authority to enjoin a citizen of its State from prosecuting in a court of another state a suit under the Federal Employers' Liability Act. Ex parte Collett,337 U. S. 55, distinguished. Pp. 345 U. S. 383-384.

(c) The Reviser's Note to § 1404(a), citing Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. Kepner,314 U. S. 44, as "an example of the need" for its enactment, does not require a different result in this case. Pp. 345 U. S. 384-387.

209 Ga. 187, 71 S.E.2d 243, reversed.

A Georgia trial court sustained a general demurrer to a suit by respondent to enjoin petitioner from prosecuting in an Alabama court a suit against respondent under the Federal Employers' Liability Act. The Supreme Court of Georgia reversed. 209 Ga. 187, 71 S.E.2d 243. This Court granted certiorari. 344 U.S. 863. Reversed, p. 345 U. S. 387.

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