ATCHISON, T. & S.F. RY. CO. V. NICHOLS, 264 U. S. 348 (1924)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry. Co. v. Nichols, 264 U.S. 348 (1924)

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company v. Nichols

No. 268

Argued February 26, 1924

Decided April 7, 1924

264 U.S. 348


A statute of New Mexico (Anno.Stats., 1915, § 1820) provides that, whenever any person shall die from an injury occasioned by negligence of the servants, etc. of a railroad company whilst running a train, the company "shall forfeit and pay for every person or passenger so dying" the fixed sum of 5,000.00, to be sued for and recovered by the husband in case of the death of a wife.

(a) Held, that the purpose is not to punish an offense against public justice, but to afford redress for a civil injury, and therefore enforcement of the right accruing from a death in New Mexico by an action in another state is not objectionable to the principle that one state will not enforce the penal laws of another. P 264 U. S. 350.

(b) The law of California (Code Civ.Proc., § 377) measures the damages for death by wrongful act by the pecuniary loss resulting to the surviving relative, while the above-cited act of

Page 264 U. S. 349

New Mexico fixes the amount in the class of case covered at $5,000.00. Held that there is here no such difference of policy as should deny the aid of the state and federal courts in California to the enforcement of a cause of action arising under the New Mexico statute in New Mexico. P. 264 U. S. 352.

286 F. 1 affirmed.

Certiorari to a judgment of the circuit court of appeals reversing a judgment of the District Court for the railroad company and directing entry of judgment for the plaintiff, Nichols, in his action to recover damages for the death of his wife, alleged to have been caused by the company's negligence. The action came into the district court by removal from the Superior Court of California.

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