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U.S. Supreme Court

Mobile, Jackson & Kansas City R. Co. v. Turnipseed, 219 U.S. 35 (1910)

Mobile, Jackson & Kansas City Railroad Company v. Turnipseed

No. 59

Submitted November 30, 1910

Decided December 19, 1910

219 U.S. 35


A general classification in a state statute resting upon obvious principles of public policy does not offend the equal protection provision of the Fourteenth Amendment because it includes persons not subject to a uniform degree of danger.

An employee. of a railway company, although not engaged in the actual operation of trains, is nevertheless within the general line of hazard inherent in the railway business.

A state statute abrogating the fellow servant rule as to employees of railway companies is not unconstitutional under the equal protection provision of the Fourteenth Amendment because it applies to all employees, and not only to those engaged in the actual operation of trains, and so held as to § 3559 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890.

Legislation providing that proof of one fact shall constitute prima facie evidence of the main fact is within the general power of government to enact rules of evidence, and neither due process of law nor equal protection of the law is denied if there is a rational connection between the fact and the ultimate fact presumed, and the party affected

Page 219 U. S. 36

is afforded reasonable opportunity to submit to the jury all the facts on the issue.

It is not an unreasonable inference that a derailment of railway cars is due to negligence in construction, maintenance, or operation of the track or of the train, and the provisions of § 1985 of the Mississippi Code of 1906 making proof of injury inflicted by the running of cars or locomotives of a railway company prima facie evidence of negligence on the part of servants of the company does not deprive the companies of their property without due process of law or deny to them the equal protection of the law.

Such a statute, in its operation, only supplies an inference of liability in the absence of other evidence contradicting such inference.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of certain provisions of the Code and of the Constitution of the Mississippi, are stated in the opinion.

Page 219 U. S. 39

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