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U.S. Supreme Court

St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Ry. Co. v. Hesterly, 228 U.S. 702 (1913)

St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway Company v. Hesterly

No. 297

Argued May 6, 1913

Decided May 26, 1913

228 U.S. 702


When the state court has overruled an objection that the federal right was not clearly presented, the objection is not open in this Court.

Quaere whether plaintiff can sue upon a statute of one jurisdiction when the action can be maintained only on that of another.

In a suit for personal injuries resulting in the death of plaintiff's intestate, plaintiff sued an interstate carrier on two counts, one for pecuniary loss to next of kin and the other for injury and pain sustained by the intestate before death. There was a recovery on both counts which the supreme court of the state sustained on the ground that the Employers' Liability Act was only supplementary, and the judgment could be upheld under the state law.

Held error, and that:

In a suit for personal injuries against an interstate railway carrier, plaintiff, not defendant, has the election how the suit shall be brought.

The Federal Employers' Liability Act supersedes state laws in the matters with which it deals, including liability of carriers while engaged in commerce between the states for defects of cars.

In case of death of an injured employee, the only action under the Federal Employers' Liability Act of 1908 is one for the benefit of the next of kin; there can be no recovery for the pain suffered before death.

The Employers' Liability Act, as amended in 1910, saves the rights of the injured employee but allows only one recovery; the act as amended,

Page 228 U. S. 703

not having a retroactive, effect does not apply where the death occurred prior to the amendment.

8 Ark. 240 reversed.

The facts, which involve the construction of the Employers' Liability Act of 1908 and the extent to which it superseded state statutes, are stated in the opinion.

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