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U.S. Supreme Court

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. Sowers, 213 U.S. 55 (1909)

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company v. Sowers

No. 64

Argued January 8, 1909

Decided March 1, 1909

213 U.S. 55


Where the opinion of the state court shows that it considered and denied the validity of a statute of another state, and its binding force to control the right of action asserted, a federal right specially set up is denied, and this Court has jurisdiction to review the judgment under § 709, Rev.Stat.

Congress has only reserved a revisory power over territorial legislation, and a statute duly enacted, and within the legislative power of the territory, remains in full force until Congress annuls it by exerting such power. @ 53 U. S. 8.

Under the provisions of the Constitution which declare the supremacy of the National government, Congress has power to enact, as it has done by §§ 905, 906, Rev.Stat., that the same faith and credit be given in the courts of the states and territories to public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of the territories as are given to those of the states under Art. IV, § 1, of the Constitution. Embry v. Palmer, 107 U. S. 3.

The passage of a legislative act of a territory is the exercise of authority under the United States. McLean v. Railroad Co., 203 U. S. 38, 203 U. S. 47.

Where Congress confers on a territory legislative power extending to all rightful subjects of legislation the territory has authority to legislate concerning personal injuries and rights of action relating thereto, and so held in regard to the legislative power of New Mexico under Act of Sept. 9, 1850, c. 49, 9 Stat. 446.

Actions for personal injuries are transitory, and maintainable wherever a court may be found that has jurisdiction of the parties and the subject

Page 213 U. S. 56

matter, Dennick v. Railroad Co., 103 U. S. 11, and although in such an action the law of the place governs in enforcing the right, the action may be sustained in another jurisdiction when not inconsistent with any local policy. Stewart v. Baltimore & Ohio R. Co., 168 U. S. 445.

No state or territory can pass laws having force or effect over person or property beyond its jurisdiction.

A court that only permits a recovery on a cause of action on plaintiff's showing compliance with the conditions imposed by a statute of the territory in which the cause arose has given to that statute the observance required under § 906, Rev.Stat., and if the action is one otherwise controlled by common law principles, its jurisdiction is not defeated because such statute requires actions of that nature to be brought in the courts of the territory.

An action for personal injuries sustained in New Mexico may be maintained in the courts of Texas subject to the conditions imposed by the Territorial Act of New Mexico of March 11, 1903, notwithstanding that act required actions of that nature to be brought in the district court of the territory.

99 S.W. 190 affirmed.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 213 U. S. 58

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