Illinois Central Railroad Company v. McKendree

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

203 U.S. 514

Illinois Central Railroad Company  v.  McKendree

 Argued: December 14, 1905. ---

Restored to docket for oral argument December 18, 1905.

Suggestion of lack of jurisdiction submitted April 16, 1906.

Decided December 17, 1906.

Defendant in error, plaintiff below, brought an action against the railroad company as a common carrier operating a railroad through Carlisle county, Kentucky, setting forth that the defendant received certain cars of infected cattle and transported them to Arlington, Carlisle county, Kentucky, where they were unloaded July 13, 1903, and placed in stock pens where the cattle of the plaintiff, rightfully running loose upon the commons, could and did come in contact with the infected cattle, and contracted Texas cow fever. That the company knew or could have known, by the exercise of reasonable care, that the cattle had infectious germs when unloaded, having been brought from an infected district, in conflict with well-known quarantine laws.

A general demurrer was interposed by defendant and overruled.

After an answer of general denial the defendant filed an amended answer:

'Further answering herein, the defendant says that the claims of the plaintiff herein asserted are based upon a certain alleged act of Congress of the United States of America approved February 2, 1903, entitled 'An Act to Enable the Secretary of Agriculture to More Effectually Suppress and Prevent the Spread of Contagious and Infectious Diseases of Live Stock, and for Other Purposes,' which act is published and contained in volume 32, United States Statutes at Large, beginning at page 791, chapter 349, and also in a supplement to the United States Compiled Statutes issued in 1903, by the West Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota, beginning at page 372 of said volume (U.S.C.omp. Stat. Supp. 1905, p. 613), and said claims are further based upon certain alleged regulations adopted and promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture on March 13, 1903, pursuant to the authority attempted to be conferred upon him by said alleged act of Congress above mentioned, approved February 2, 1903.

'The defendant says that said act of Congress hereinbefore mentioned, and said regulations adopted by the Secretary of Agriculture, as hereinbefore stated, are each and all of them repugnant to and in contravention of the Constitution of the United States of America, and in excess of the powers of Congress and of the Secretary of Agriculture under the Constitution of the United States, and they are each and all, therefore, unconstitutional and void, and, under the Constitution of the United States, this defendant has the right, privilege, and immunity of being exempt from the assertion or prosecution of any claims against it based upon or arising under such act of Congress or said regulation, or any of them, and this defendant, as permitted by § 709 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (U.S.C.omp. Stat. 1901, p. 575), hereby specially sets up and claims and pleads in defense of this action the right and privilege and immunity which is secured to it by the Constitution of the United States, to be exempt from all suits and prosecutions and all claims against it based upon or arising under such unconstitutional and void act of Congress and regulations adopted or promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture.'

A demurrer was filed by the plaintiff to the amended answer.

The plaintiff filed an amended petition, the affirmative allegations of which were controverted.

This amended petition sets forth:

'The plaintiff, J. U. McKendree, comes, and by leave of the court amends his petition, and says that the defendant, Illinois Central Railroad Company, on the 13th day of June, 1903, received one car of cattle at Grand Junction, Tennessee, to be transported to the town of Arlington, Kentucky, and on the 13th day of said month unloaded them in the stock pens in said town.

'That the town of Arlington is a small town, located on defendant's road in this, Carlisle county, and defendant's stock pens are located adjacent to the public highway and commons, and that Grand Junction, Tennessee, is located on defendant's road and south of the quarantine line that was established on the 14th day of March, 1903, by and under the existing quarantine laws, and that said quarantine line, 'beginning on the Mississippi river, at the southeast corner of the state of Missouri, at the western boundary of Tennessee.' [Here follows a description of the quarantine line through the body of the state of Tennessee as set forth in amendment No. 4 to B. A. I., Order No. 107.] And that the defendants received said cattle south of said quarantine line, and transported them north and out of a quarantine district, and south of the said quarantine line, and transported them north through the state of Tennessee into this county and state, and unloaded them in the town of Arlington, and placed them in their stock pens adjacent to the public highway and commons, where plaintiff's cows came in contact with the germ of Texas cow fever that said cattle had on them when put in the pens as aforesaid; that said stock pens were suffered and permitted to remain open and exposed to cattle after the removal of said cattle, without disinfecting, or any other effort to protect exposed stock, and plaintiff's cows contracted Texas cow fever from said germs produced from said cattle while in said stock pens, to the damage of plaintiff.

'Wherefore he prays as in his original petition.'

The court sustained the demurrer to the amended answer of the defendant, and upon the issue joined, the case was sent to the jury. A verdict and judgment were rendered against the railroad company, and in favor of the plaintiff below.

There was no dispute as to the transportation of the cattle from a point south of the quarantine line to a point north thereof, and the placing of them in pens at Arlington. The court, over the defendant's objection, submitted the case to the jury upon the questions of whether the transported cattle were infected, and, if so, whether the plaintiff's cattle contracted the disease from them while they were in the pens of the defendant company at Arlington.

The presiding judge of the Carlisle circuit court filed the following certificate:

'I, R. J. Bugg, sole presiding judge of the circuit court of Carlisle county, in the state of Kentucky, now and at the time of the trial of the above entitled cause, do hereby certify:

'That, upon the trial of said cause, the defendant, Illinois Central Railroad Company, relied for its defense upon certain rights, privileges, and immunities specially claimed by it under the Constitution of the United States of America, and it insisted upon its said rights, privileges, and immunities throughout the trial of said action, and in the assertion of them it claimed and contended that the various regulations and orders made and promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture, and offered in evidence on behalf of the plaintiff herein over the objections of defendant, were unconstitutional, null, and void, as being in excess of the powers conferred, or which could be conferred, by act of Congress upon the Secretary of Agriculture under the Constitution of the United States of America, and that the said act of Congress, approved February 2, 1903, under which the Secretary of Agriculture assumed to promulgate said orders and regulations, was itself unconstitutional, null, and void, as being in conflict with the Constitution of the United States of America, and in excess of the powers conferred by it upon the Congress.

'Said defendant, Illinois Central Railroad Company, further contended throughout the trial of said cause that no right of action against it accrued to the plaintiff by reason of any of the alleged regulations or orders made or promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture, and offered in evidence upon the trial of this action, or by reason of the alleged failure on the part of the defendant to observe or to comply with any of said regulations or orders, off the ground that the said regulations or orders did not assume or attempt to give, and that the said act of Congress did not assume or attempt to give, to the plaintiff herein, or to any other in like situation, a remedy by way of civil action against the defendant herein for its alleged breach of any of said regulations or orders made or promulgated by the Secretary of Agriculture, and throughout the trial of said action the defendant, Illinois Central Railroad Company, specially set up and claimed, even if said act of Congress and said regulations and orders were valid under the Constitution and laws of the United States, still it had a right, privilege, or immunity under the said act of Congress or the said regulations or orders, from any liability to the plaintiff, J. U. McKendree, in a civil action for damages claimed on account of its alleged breach of said regulations or orders.

Notes[edit]

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).