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Opinion of the Court.
tion of the laws, is as untenable as that which we have considered. The statute makes no discrimination against any railroad company in its requirements. Each company is subject to the same liability, and from each the same security, by the erection of fences, gates and cattle-guards, is exacted, when its road passes through, along or adjoining enclosed or cultivated fields or unenclosed lands. There is no evasion of the rule of equality, where all companies are subjected to the same duties and liabilities under similar circumstances.” 115 U. S. 523.
Like decisions, for like reasons, were made in the similar cases of Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway v. Beckwith, 129 U. S. 26, and Same v. Emmons, 149 U. S. 364, in which last case this court, again speaking by Mr. Justice Field, said: “The extent of the obligations and duties required of railway corporations or companies by their charters does not create any limitation upon the State against imposing all such further duties as may be deemed essential or important for the safety of the public, the security of passengers and employés, or the protection of the property of adjoining owners.
The imposing of proper penalties for the enforcement of such additional duties is unquestionably within the police powers of the States. No contract with any person, individual or corporate, can impose restrictions upon the power of the States in this respect.” 149 U. S. 367, 368.
In Missouri Pacific Railway v. Mackey, 127 U. S. 205, the judgment of the Supreme Court of Kansas in 33 Kansas, 298, maintaining the constitutionality of a statute of the State, imposing for the future upon every railroad corporation, organized or doing business in the State, a liability, to which no person or corporation was before subject, for all damages done to any of its employés by negligence or mismanagement of their fellow-servants, was affirmed by this court, saying: “The hazardous character of the business of operating a railway would seem to call for special legislation with respect to railroad corporations, having for its object the protection of their employés, as well as the safety of the public. The business of other corporations is not subject to similar
Opinion of the Court.
dangers to their employés ; and no objections, therefore, can be made to the legislation on the ground of its making an unjust discrimination. It meets a particular necessity, and all railroad corporations are, without distinction, made subject to the same liabilities. As said by the court below, it is simply a question of legislative discretion whether the same liabilities shall be applied to carriers by canal and stage coaches, and to persons and corporations using steam in manufactories.” 127 U. S. 210.
The motives which have induced, and the reasons which justify, the legislation now in question, may be summed up thus: Fire, while necessary for many uses of civilized man, is a dangerous, volatile and destructive element, which often escapes in the form of sparks, capable of being wafted afar through the air, and of destroying any combustible property on which they fall; and which, when it has once gained headway, can hardly be arrested or controlled. Railroad corporations, in order the better to carry out the public object of their creation, the sure and prompt transportation of passengers and goods, have been authorized by statute to use locomotive engines propelled by steam generated by fires lighted upon those engines. It is within the authority of the legislature to make adequate provision for protecting the property of others against loss or injury by sparks from such engines. The right of the citizen not to have his property burned without compensation is no less to be regarded than the right of the corporation to set it on fire. To require the utmost care and diligence of the railroad corporations in taking precautions against the escape of fire from their engines might not afford sufficient protection to the owners of property in the neighborhood of the railroads. When both parties are equally faultless, the legislature may properly consider it to be just that the duty of insuring private property against loss or injury caused by the use of dangerous instruments should rest upon the railroad company, which employs the instruments and creates the peril for its own profit, rather
the owner of the property, who has no control over or interest in those instruments. The very statute, now in
Opinion of the Court.
question, which makes the railroad company liable in damages for property so destroyed, gives it, for its protection against such damages, an insurable interest in the property in danger of destruction, and the right to obtain insurance thereon in its own behalf; and it may obtain insurance upon all such property generally, without specifying any particular property. Eastern Railroad v. Relief Ins. Co., 98 Mass. 420. The statute is not a penal one, imposing punishment for a violation of law; but it is purely remedial, making the party, doing a lawful act for its own profit, liable in damages to the innocent party injured thereby, and giving to that party the whole damages, measured by the injury suffered. Grand Trunk Railway v. Richardson, 91 U. S. 454, 472; Huntington v. Attrill, 146 U. S. 657.
The statute is a constitutional and valid exercise of the leg. islative power of the State, and applies to all railroad corporations alike. Consequently, it neither violates any contract between the State and the railroad company, nor deprives the company of its property without due process of law, nor yet denies to it the equal protection of the laws.
No. 118. MISSOURI PACIFIC RAILWAY COMPANY V. SIMMONS, Administrator of Campbell, argued and decided with this case, and reported below in 121 Missouri, 340, was substantially similar, and in that case also the
Judgment is affirmed.
Mr. David D. Duncan, Mr. John F. Dillon and Mr. Winslow F. Pierce for plaintiff in error.
Mr. W. M. Williams for defendant in error.
Opinion of the Court.
WARNER VALLEY STOCK COMPANY V. SMITH.
APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE DISTRICT OF
No. 550. Argued December 17, 18, 1896. – Decided January 11, 1897.
A bill in equity against the Secretary of the Interior and the Commissioner
of the General Land Office, to restrain them from exercising further jurisdiction with respect to the disposition of certain public lands, and from further trespassing upon the plaintiff's right of quiet possession thereof, and to compel the Secretary to prepare patents therefor to be issued to the plaintiff, in accordance with law, and to the end that the plaintiff's title may be quieted and freed from cloud, and for further relief, abates, as to the Secretary, upon his resignation of his office, and cannot afterwards be maintained against the Commissioner alone.
The case is stated in the opinion.
Mr. Frederic D. McKenney for appellant. Mr. Samuel F. Phillips, Mr. Charles A. Cogswell and Mr. James B. McCrellis were with him on his brief.
Mr. Assistant Attorney General Whitney and Mr. Solicitor General for appellees.
Mr. Joseph K. McCammon, Mr. John Mullan and Mr. James H. Hayden filed a brief for appellees.
MR. JUSTICE Gray delivered the opinion of the court.
This was a bill in equity, filed January 15, 1896, in the Supreme Court for the District of Columbia, by a corporation of the State of Oregon, against Hoke Smith, Secretary of the Interior, and Silas W. Lamoreux, Commissioner of the General Land Office, both alleged in the bill to be citizens and residents of the District of Columbia, and to be “sued for acts done and threatened by them in their official capacity respectively."
Opinion of the Court.
The prayer of the bill was “that the said Hoke Smith, Secretary of the Interior, and Silas W. Lamoreux, Commissioner of the General Land Office, their subordinates and agents, may be restrained and enjoined from assuming to exercise further jurisdiction with respect to the disposition of lands described in Oregon swamp land lists No. 30 and No. 31, and from further trespassing upon your orator's right of quiet possession thereof; and that said defendant Hoke Smith may be commanded and enjoined to prepare for issuance unto your orator, in accordance with law, patents for said lands, and to the end that your orator's title to said lands may be quieted and freed from cloud; and that such other and further relief may be administered unto your orator as the peculiar necessities and circumstances of the case may require and merit.”
By the act of Congress of September 28, 1850, c. 84, entitled “An act to enable the State of Arkansas and other States to reclaim the “swamp lands' within their limits," it was enacted that in each State the whole of the “swamp and overflowed lands, made unfit thereby for cultivation, which shall remain unsold at the passage of this act shall be, and the same are hereby, granted to said State”; and that it should be the duty of the Secretary of the Interior as soon as might be practicable, “ to make out an accurate list and plats of the lands described as aforesaid, and transmit the same to the governor of the State," and at his request, “cause a patent to be issued to the State therefor; and, on that patent, the fee simple to said lands shall vest in said State, subject to the disposal of the legislature thereof." 9 Stat. 519. And by the act of March 12, 1860, c. 5, the provisions of the act of 1850 were extended to the State of Oregon, “provided that the grant hereby made shall not include any lands which the government of the United States may have reserved, sold or disposed of (in pursuance of any law heretofore enacted) prior to the confirmation of title to be made under the authority of said act." 12 Stat. 3.
The leading facts alleged in the bill were as follows: The lands in question were sold and conveyed by the State of Oregon in 1883 and 1884, and passed by mesne conveyances