Minneapolis & St. Louis Ry. Co. v. Beckwith,
129 U.S. 26 (1889)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Minneapolis & St. Louis Ry. Co. v. Beckwith, 129 U.S. 26 (1889)

Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway Company v. Beckwith

No. 100

Argued December 3, 1888

Decided January 7, 1889

129 U.S. 26


The provision in the Code of Iowa, § 1289, which authorizes the recovery of "double the value of the stock killed or damages caused thereto" by a railroad when the injury took place at a point on the road where the corporation had a right to erect a fence and failed to do so, and when it was not "occasioned by the willful act of the owner or his agent," is not in conflict with the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States either as depriving the company of property without due process of law or as denying to it the equal protection of the laws.

Corporations are persons within the meaning of the clauses in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution concerning the deprivation of property, and concerning the equal protection of the laws. Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, 118 U. S. 394, and Pembina Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania, 125 U. S. 181, followed.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution does not limit the subjects in relation to which the police power of the state may be exercised for the protection of its citizens. Barbier v. Connolly, 113 U. S. 27, Soon

Page 129 U. S. 27

Hinq v. Crowley, 113 U. S. 703, and Missouri Pacific Railway v. Humes, 115 U. S. 512, considered and followed.

The propriety and legality of the imposition of punitive damages for a violation of duty have been recognized by repeated judicial decisions for more than a century.

The case is stated in the opinion of the court.

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