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Southern Pacific Co. v. Schuyler, 227 U.S. 601 (1913)

Southern Pacific Co. v. Schuyler

No. 143

Argued January 23, 1913

Decided February 24, 1913

227 U.S. 601


Whether the anti-pass provision of the Hepburn Act prohibits a carrier from giving free interstate transportation to employees of the Railway Mail Service when not on duty but traveling for their own benefit is a federal question.

One holding a government commission that entitles him to free interstate railway transportation while on duty and who while not on duty enters a train, relying on such commission and with the consent of the officials in charge of the train, and remains thereon with their consent, is not a trespasser even if in so doing he violates the anti-pass provision of the Hepburn law.

Whether the relation of carrier and passenger arises in the case of one traveling gratuitously in violation of the anti-pass provision of the Hepburn Act, in the absence of any federal statute regulating the matter, is a question not of federal, but of state, law.

Where the decision of the state court adverse to plaintiff in error proceeds upon two independent grounds, one of which does not involve a federal question and is sufficient to support it, the writ of error will be dismissed or the judgment affirmed, according to circumstances.

On writ of error to a state court, while this Court does not ordinarily review findings of fact, if a federal right has been denied as the result of a finding of fact which is without support in the evidence,

Page 227 U. S. 602

this Court may examine the evidence to the extent necessary to give plaintiff in error the benefit of the federal right asserted.

In this case, the finding of the state court that a railway mail clerk while traveling on his own business was a gratuitous passenger was well founded on the evidence.

There is no presumption that a railway company gives free interstate transportation, and that is a fact that must be established by evidence.

The anti-pass provision of the Hepburn Act does not make an outlaw of one traveling interstate on a pass and so deprive him of the benefit of the local law that makes the carrier responsible for exercising due care.

Penalties are not to be enlarged by construction, and so held that one violating the Hepburn Act by accepting gratuitous passage is not deprived of protection due to other passengers under the local law as well as subject to the penalty specified in the act.

In Utah, the rights of safe carriage on a common carrier are not derived from the contract of carriage, but are based on the law of the state requiring the carrier to use due care for the safety of passengers.

37 Utah 581 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the liability of an interstate railway carrier for personal injuries sustained through its negligence by a railway mail service clerk traveling without payment of fare, and the construction of the anti-pass provisions of the Hepburn Act, are stated in the opinion.

Page 227 U. S. 605

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