Dayton Coal Iron Company v. Barton
This was an action tried in the circuit court of Rhea county, Tennessee, wherein T. A. Barton, a citizen of Tennessee, sought to recover from the Dayton Coal & Iron Company (Limited), a corporation organized under the laws of Great Britain, and doing business as a manufacturer of pig iron and coke in said county. The company owns a store, where it sells goods to its employees and other persons. The company also has a monthly pay day, and settles in cash with its employees on said pay day. In the meantime, and to such of its employees as see fit to request the same, it issues orders on its storekeeper for goods.
On March 17, 1899, the legislature of Tennessee passed an act requiring 'all persons, firms, corporations, and companies using coupons, scrip, punchouts, store orders, or other evidences of indebtedness to pay laborers and employees for labor or otherwise, to redeem the same in good and lawful money of the United States in the hands of their employees, laborers, or a bona fide holder, and to provide a legal remedy for collection of same in favor of said laborers, employees, and such bona fide holders.'
This was a suit brought by said Barton to recover as a bona fide holder of certain store orders that had been issued by the defendant company to some of its laborers in payment for labor. The defendant company denied the validity of the legislation, as well under the laws and Constitution of Tennessee as the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The plaintiff recovered a judgment against the company in the circuit court of Rhea county, and this judgment was affirmed by the supreme court of Tennessee, whereupon a writ of error from this court was allowed by the chief justice of the state supreme court.
Mr. F. L. Mansfield for plaintiff in error.
Mr. B. G. McKenzie for defendant in error.
Mr. Justice Shiras delivered the opinion of the court: