American Railroad Company of Porto Rico v. Castro
Julio P. Castro, defendant in error, was plaintiff in the court below, and the plaintiff in error, the American Railroad Company, a New York corporation doing business in Porto Rico, was defendant. The action was commenced by the filing of a complaint in the office of the clerk of the court at Mayaguez, Porto Rico. Damages in the sum of $15,000 were prayed, because of the alleged negligent killing of the daughter of the plaintiff by a train of the company, whilst she, with other persons, was attempting to pass, in a vehicle, over the railroad of the defendant, at a point where it intersected a public highway leading from the town of San German to the town of Mayaguez.
A demurrer to the complaint was filed, and also the following plea to the jurisdiction of the court
'Defendant, in the above-entitled action, comes now, by its attorney, F. H. Dexter, and objects to the jurisdiction of this court to try this cause under the terms and provisions of § 670 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (U.S.C.omp. Stat. 1901, p. 545), for the reason that all terms of this court held in the city of Mayaguez, under and by virtue of the terms and provisions of the act of April 12, 1900 [31 Stat. at. L. 77, chap. 191], creating a civil government in Porto Rico, and particularly the present term, at which the above cause is set for trial, is a special term of this court, and, therefore, this court is without jurisdiction to try the issues in this cause by a jury.
'Wherefore, defendant prays for an order either dismissing this cause or transferring the same for trial at a regular term of this court to be held at either San Juan or Ponce.'
After the entry of an order overruling the demurrer and the plea to jurisdiction, an answer was filed and the case was tried by a jury. A verdict was rendered in favor of the plaintiff for the sum of $1,600. The objection to jurisdiction was renewed in a motion to arrest the judgment, and, after the overruling thereof, a bill of exceptions was settled by the trial judge, containing exceptions taken during the trial to the admission and rejection of evidence and to instructions given and refused. The case was then brought to this court.
Messrs. Frederic D. McKenney, Francis H. Dexter, and John Spalding Flannery for plaintiff in error.
Mr. Frederick L. Cornwell for defendant in error.
Statement by Mr. Justice White:
Mr. Justice White, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court: