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U.S. Supreme Court

Bradford Electric Light Co., Inc. v. Clapper, 286 U.S. 145 (1932)

Bradford Electric Light Co., Inc. v. Clapper

No. 423

Argued February 15, 16, 1932

Decided May 16, 1932

286 U.S. 145


1. A state statute is a "public act" within the meaning of the full faith and credit clause of the Federal Constitution. P. 286 U. S. 154.

2. A federal court is bound equally with courts of the state in which it sits to observe the command of the full faith and credit clause. P. 286 U. S. 155.

3. As regards the question whether a state is bound to recognize in its courts an Act of another state which is obnoxious to its public policy, different considerations may apply where the right claimed

Page 286 U. S. 146

under the Act is the cause of action sued on, and where it is set up merely as a defense to an asserted liability. P. 286 U. S. 160.

4. Through a contract made in Vermont, an employer domiciled and having its principal place of business there, and its employee, also a resident of that state, tacitly accepted the Vermont Workmen's Compensation Act, which provides that injury or death of an employee suffered in Vermont or elsewhere in the course of his employment, shall be compensated for only as by the Act provided, without recourse to actions based on tort, which it expressly excludes. The employee died of an injury he received while casually in New Hampshire about the employment, and left no New Hampshire dependents.


(1) That the Vermont statutory agreement is a defense to the employer against an action for death by wrongful act, brought in New Hampshire, in the federal court, by the personal representative of the deceased employee. P. 286 U. S. 153.

(2) Refusal to recognize such defense is a failure to give full faith and credit to the Vermont statute, in violation of Art. IV, 1, of the Federal Constitution. P. 286 U. S. 154.

(3) To recognize as a defense in another state the statutory relationship and obligations to which the parties to the employment subjected themselves under the Vermont Act is not to give that Act an extraterritorial application. P. 286 U. S. 155.

(4) The fact that the New Hampshire Compensation Act permits employees to elect, after the injury, whether to sue for negligence or to avail themselves of its compensation provisions does not establish that it would be obnoxious to New Hampshire public policy to give effect, ut supra, to the Vermont statute in cases involving only the rights of residents of that state. P. 286 U. S. 161.

5. Acceptance of the New Hampshire Workmen's Compensation Act by a Vermont employer in order to save certain common law defenses if sued by employees resident in the former state held not an abandonment of the employer's defense under the Vermont Act in respect of an employee who resided in Vermont and was injured while casually working in New Hampshire. P. 286 U. S. 162.

51 F.2d 992, 999, reversed.

Certiorari to review the affirmance of a recovery in an action for death by wrongful act. See 284 U. S. 221.

Page 286 U. S. 150

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