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Opinion of the Court.

courts of the United States, than statutes of limitations of actions, real and personal, as enacted by the legislature of a State, and as construed by its highest court. Higginson v. Mein, 4 Cranch, 415, 419, 420 ; Shelby v. Guy, 11 Wheat. 361, 367; Bell v. Morrison, 1 Pet. 351, 360; Henderson v. Griffin, 5 Pet. 151 ; Green V. Neal, 6 Pet. 291, 297–300; McElmoyle v. Cohen, 13 Pet. 312, 327; Harpending v. Dutch Church, 16 Pet. 455, 493; Leffingwell v. Warren, 2 Black, 599; Sohn v. Waterson, 17 Wall. 596, 600; Tioga Railroad v. Blossburg & Corning Railroad, 20 Wall. 137; Kibbe v. Ditto, 93 U. S. 674; Davie v. Briggs, 97 U. S. 628, 637; Amy v. Dubuque, 98 U. S. 470; Mills v. Scott, 99 U. S. 25, 28; Moores v. National Bank, 104 U. S. 625; Michigan Insurance Bank v. Eldred, 130 U. S. 693, 696; Penfield v. Chesapeake &c. Railroad, 134 U. S. 351; Barney v. Oelrichs, 138 U. S. 529.

“In Patten v. Easton, 1 Wheat. 476, 482, and again in Powell v. Harman, 2 Pet. 241, this court had construed a Tennessee statute of limitations of real actions in accordance with the decisions of the Supreme Court of the State, made

, since the first of those cases was certified up to this court, and supposed to have settled the construction of the statute. Yet in Green v. Neal, 6 Pet. 291, a judgment of the Circuit Court of the United States, which had held itself bound by those cases in this court, was reversed, because of more recent decisions of the state court, establishing the opposite construction."

Nor can the case before us be saved from the operation of the rule thus stated by the contention that the Supreme Court of the State of Alabama has misconstrued its statutes or bas adopted a rule of limitation or prescription in conflict therewith. In Leffingwell v. Warren, 2 Black, 599, 603, Mr. Justice Swayne, speaking for the court, thus laid down the rule :

“The courts of the United States, in the absence of legislation upon the subject by Congress, recognize the statutes of limitations of the several States, and give them the same construction and effect which are given by the local tribunals. They are a rule of decision under the 34th section of the Judicial Act of 1789. The construction given to a statute of a

Opinion of the Court.


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State by the highest judicial tribunal of such State is regarded as a part of the statute, and is as binding upon the courts of the United States as the text.

If the highest judicial tribunal of a State adopt new views as to the proper construction of such a statute, and reverse its former decisions, this court will follow the latest settled adjudications."

These views meet every point presented here and do not in any way conflict with Burgess v. Seligman, 107 U. S. 20, 32; Carroll v. Smith, 111 U. S. 556, 562; or Gibson v. Lyon, 115 U. S. 439. None of those cases involved the question of the conclusiveness on this court of the decisions of the courts of a State as to a statute of limitations and the bar created thereby. It may be that, if the question were before us for original consideration, we should hold that the right of the heirs to sue did not arise until after the death of the holder of the life estate, and therefore, that the bar of the statute would only then begin to run; but we are not at liberty to pass upon that question. When the bar of the statute of prescription, under the laws and decisions of the State of Alabama, began to be operative has been construed by the court of last resort of that State. Necessarily the determination of when the parties had a right to sue was a question concerning the construction when the prescription commenced to run, or when they were obliged to bring their action, whether legal or equitable. Those questions were purely within the province of the Supreme Court of Alabama. In deciding them it passed upon its own statutes of limitations or the doctrines of prescription as applied by it, and we are obliged to apply and enforce their conclusions.

To endorse the position of the plaintiffs in error, we should be compelled at the same time to disregard the elementary rules by which decrees of probate are sanctioned and upheld, on the ground of a technical construction which, it is asserted, we are compelled to adopt because of the decisions of the state court of Alabama, and to depart from the settled rule under which this court adheres to the decision of state courts of last resort in construing statutes of limitation or enforcing the doctrine of prescription. In other words, the success of the

Statement of the Case.

plaintiffs' case depends upon our adhering to the rule by which we follow the construction of state courts in a state matter on the one hand and departing from it on the other.

Judgment affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON, not having heard the argument, took no part in the decision of this cause.

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In an action by the representatives of a railroad employé against the com

pany, to recover damages for the death of the employé, caused by an accident while in its employ, which is tried in a different State from that in which the contract of employment was made and in which the accident took place, the right to recover and the limit of the amount of the

judgment are governed by the lex loci, and not by the lex fori. A railroad company is bound to furnish sound machinery for the use of its

employés, and if one of them is killed in an accident caused by a defective snow-plough, the right of his representative to recover damages therefor is not affected by the fact that some two weeks before he was sent out with the defective machinery, he had discovered the defect, and had notified the master mechanic of it, and the latter had undertaken to

have it repaired. Some alleged errors in the charge of the court below are examined and held

to have no inerit.

The plaintiff below, who was the administrator of the estate of Hugh M. Munro, sued in the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota to recover $25,000 damages for the killing of Munro on the 10th day of January, 1888, at or near a station known as Gray Cliffon the Northern Pacific Railway in the Territory of Montana. The complaint contained the following allegations:

Statement of the Case.

“That on the said 10th day of January, 1888, the said Hugh M. Munro, now deceased, was in the employ of the said defendant corporation within the Territory of Montana in the capacity of locomotive engineer for hire and reward by the said defendant paid, and that the duty of running a locomotive engine upon said defendant's line of railway within said Territory was by said defendant assigned to said Hugh M. Munro on the said 10th day of January, 1888, and the defendant directed and ordered the said Hugh M. Munro to run a certain locomotive engine, the property of said defendant, known as engine No. 161, over and upon its said railway in said Territory; that prior to and at the time the said orders were so presented to said Munro there had been and then was a severe snow storm in progress, and defendant's line of railway over and upon which said Munro was so ordered to run said engine was covered with drifting snow theretofore accumulated thereon and then fast accumulating, notwithstanding which the said defendant corporation did wilfully, improperly, negligently, and carelessly refuse and neglect to send a snow-plow ahead of said engine No. 161 to clear the snow and ice from said defendant's said track which had accumulated and was accumulating thereon by reason of said storm, so as to render the passage of said engine No. 161 safe and proper.

“That there was attached to the forward part of said engine No. 161 a certain attachment known as a pilot-plow, an appliance constructed thereon for the purpose of clearing the railway of snow and ice accumulated thereon and render safe the passage of the engine to which said plow was attached over and upon said railway of defendant.

“That on the said 10th day of January, 1888, the said defendant corporation knowingly, wilfully, negligently, and carelessly allowed to be and remain upon said engine No. 161, attached thereto as aforesaid, a certain pilot-plow, the iron braces, bolts, and rods of which were broken, imperfect, and insufficient, by reason of which condition the said plow was loose and insufficiently secured to the pilot of said engine, allowing the said pilot to raise up and ride over obstructing

Statement of the Case.

snow and ice instead of cutting through the same, as was the intention of its construction, rendering the running of said engine upon said railway dangerous, and that the said defendant well knew of the broken, defective, and dangerous condition of said engine No. 161 at the time the said Hugh M. Munro was so ordered to run the same upon and over said railway, notwithstanding which the said defendant corporation did negligently and carelessly furnish to said Hugh M. Munro said engine with the said broken and imperfect pilotplow attached thereto to run over and upon its said line of railway.

“ That while said Hugh M. Munro was running said engine in performance of his duty as such engineer and pursuant to the orders of said defendant corporation, and before daylight on said 10th day of January, 1888, near Gray Cliff, in said Territory of Montana, the said engine struck an accumulation of snow and ice which said defendant had carelessly and negligently allowed to accumulate upon its said railway track, and the pilot-plow of said engine, by reason of its broken, loose, and imperfect condition aforesaid, did ride upon said accumulation of snow and ice, thereby derailing said engine and throwing the same from said railway track, whereby the said Hugh M. Munro was instantly killed.

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“That the law of the Territory of Montana governing actions for recovery of damages for causing death was on the 10th day of January, 1888, and now is sections 13 and 14 of title II. of said chapter 1 of the first division of Code of Civil Procedure of the Territory of Montana; which said sections of said law of said Territory are in the words and figures following, viz. :

" SECTION 13. A father, or, in case of his death or desertion of his family, the mother, may maintain an action for the injury or death of a child, or a guardian for the injury or death of his ward.

“« SECTION 14. Where the death of a person not being a minor is caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another, his heirs or personal representatives may maintain an action for

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