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U.S. Supreme Court

St. Louis Consolidated Coal Co. v. Illinois, 185 U.S. 203 (1902)

St. Louis Consolidated Coal Company v. Illinois

No. 197

Submitted March 19, 1902

Decided April 14, 1902

185 U.S. 203


It is within the power of a state legislature to provide for the appointment of inspectors of mines and the payment of their fees by the owners of the mines.

A law providing for the inspection of coal mines is not unconstitutional by reason of its limitation to mines where more than five men are employed at any one time.

Where the law provided for an inspection of coal mines at least four times a year, it was held not to be objectionable by reason of the fact that a discretion was invested in the inspectors to cause the mines to be inspected more than four times a year, and as often as they might deem it necessary and proper.

A law providing that the fees for each inspection shall not be less than six nor more than ten dollars is .not rendered unconstitutional by the fact that, within these limits, the fees for each inspection are fixed by the inspector.

This was an action of assumpsit originally brought in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County by the people of the State of Illinois against the Consolidated Coal Company of St. Louis, a corporation of Illinois, to recover the sum of $1,818 for the fees of state mine inspectors for the inspection of certain coal mines located in Illinois, owned and operated by the defendant, under "An Act Providing for the Health and Safety of Persons Employed in Coal Mines," originally enacted May 28, 1879, and the amendments thereto.

The case was submitted to the court without a jury, upon a stipulation of facts, in which it was agreed that the mines of the defendant, thirty-one in number, had been inspected between November 2, 1895, and June 26, 1899, by a state inspector, whose aggregate fees were $1,818; that the Secretary of the Bureau of Labor Statistics presented the defendant with the inspection bills and demanded payment therefor, which defendant refused to pay.

Page 185 U. S. 204

It was further stipulated that the charge for the recovery of which this action was brought was made in pursuance of the Act of May 28, 1879, and that the question to be raised and disposed of was the validity and constitutionality of so much of said above-entitled act and the amendments thereto as related to the inspection fees of the said mine inspectors, and the imposing upon the mine operator and owner the duty of paying such fees, and also whether there was any remedy at law to recover such fees.

A judgment having been entered for the payment of these fees, the case was carried by writ of error to the supreme court, where the judgment of the circuit court of St. Clair County was affirmed.

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