Magenau v. Aetna Freight Lines, Inc.
360 U.S. 273 (1959)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Magenau v. Aetna Freight Lines, Inc., 360 U.S. 273 (1959)

Magenau v. Aetna Freight Lines, Inc.

No. 439

Argued May 18, 1959

Decided June 15, 1959

360 U.S. 273

Syllabus

Basing jurisdiction on diversity of citizenship, petitioner sued in a Federal District Court to recover for the wrongful death of his decedent, who was killed when a tractor-trailer leased by respondent crashed off a Pennsylvania highway. The case was tried to a jury on a negligence theory, and judgment went for petitioner. The Court of Appeals reversed on the ground that the decedent was an employee of respondent and the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act provided the exclusive remedy. Both courts treated the question whether the decedent was respondent's employee within the meaning of the Pennsylvania statute as a question of law for determination by the judge, instead of the jury.

Held: the judgment is reversed, and the cause is remanded for a new trial. Pp. 360 U. S. 274 279.

(a) In a Federal District Court, all disputed issues of fact necessary to a determination as to whether the decedent was respondent's employee within the meaning of the Pennsylvania Workmen's Compensation Act were for jury determination, regardless of the practice in the state courts, unless the State's assignment of those factual issues to the judge, rather than the jury, has been "announced as an integral part of the special relationship created by the statute." Byrd v. Blue Ride Electrical Cooperative,356 U. S. 525. P. 360 U. S. 278.

(b) No such reason for the distinction has been shown here, and, on the record in this case, not all of the disputed issues of fact necessary to a determination as to whether the decedent was respondent's employee within the meaning of the Pennsylvania statute were submitted to, or passed on by, the jury. Therefore, a new trial is necessary. Pp. 360 U. S. 276-279.

257 F. 2d 445, reversed and cause remanded.

Page 360 U. S. 274

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