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U.S. Supreme Court

Chicago & Northwestern Ry. Co. v. Nye Schneider Fowler Co., 260 U.S. 35 (1922)

Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company v.

Nye Schneider Fowler Company

No. 24

Argued April 18, 1922

Decided November 13, 1922

260 U.S. 35


1. A state statute making the initial railroad carrier liable to the shipper for the default of its connecting carrier is not lacking in due process of law if the first carrier is allowed subrogation against the second, whether the subrogation be founded on statute, common law, or equitable considerations. P. 260 U. S. 37.

2. A statute imposing on common carriers the duty of seasonably considering and settling claims for loss or damage of freight, under pain of being required to pay 7% on the recovery and reasonable attorney's fees, to be fixed by the court, in any case where the claimant recovers judgment for more than has been tendered him by the carrier is not per se objectionable under the equal protection or due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 260 U. S. 38.

3. Such statutes are to be judged by their application in the particular case; where the result is fair and reasonable, they will be sustained; aliter, where it is so arbitrary, unequal, and oppressive as to shock the sense of fairness inspiring the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 260 U. S. 43.

4. In this case, involving numerous claims for loss or injury to hogs while in the carrier's custody, the amount of which the carrier

Page 260 U. S. 36

might have ascertained and so protected itself by a tender, and where the trial lasted four days, an attorney's fee of $200 for service in the trial court, and 7% interest on $800 ultimately recovered, was not an excessive penalty. P. 260 U. S. 45. Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul R. Co. v. Polt, 232 U. S. 165, distinguished.

5. But imposition on the carrier of an additional attorney's fee of $100, fixed under the statute upon the basis of the service rendered, time and labor bestowed, and recovery secured by the claimant's attorney in resisting an appeal by which the carrier obtained a large reduction of an excessive judgment, was unconstitutional. P. 260 U. S. 46.

105 Neb. 151 reversed in part and affirmed in part.

Error to a judgment of the Supreme Court of Nebraska affirming with reductions a judgment for damages, interest, and attorney's fees and taxing a further attorney's fee for services in that court in an action against a railroad company for loss and injury of livestock freight.

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