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Kansas City Southern Ry. Co. v. Anderson, 233 U.S. 325 (1914)

Kansas City Southern Railway Company v. Anderson

No. 319

Argued March 20, 1914

Decided April 13, 1914

233 U.S. 325


A state may impose double damages and an attorney's fee on railway companies for failure to pay the owner of stock killed within a reasonable period after demand and award of the jury of the amount claimed before action commenced, and so held that the double damage statute of Arkansas is constitutional as applied to cases of this character.

St. Louis, Iron Mtn. & Southern Ry. Co. v. Wynne, 224 U. S. 354, distinguished, as in that case this statute was declared unconstitutional only as applied to claims where the jury awarded less than the amount demanded.

A statute is not necessarily void for all purposes because it has been declared by this Court to be unconstitutional as applied to a particular state of facts; it may be sustained as to another state of facts where the state court has expressly decided that it should not be construed as applicable to such conditions as would render it unconstitutional if applied thereto.

A state statute imposing double damages, and otherwise valid, is not unconstitutional as denying the equal protection of the laws because

Page 233 U. S. 326

it applies only to railroad companies, and not to litigants in general.

The classification is not arbitrary. Seaboard Air Line v. Seegers, 207 U. S. 73. The states have a large latitude in the policy which they will pursue in regard to enforcing railroad companies to settle damage claims promptly and properly. Chi., M. & St. P. Ry. Co. v. Polt, 232 U. S. 165.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the Fourteenth Amendment of a statute of Arkansas allowing double damages and attorney's fee to be awarded against railway corporations under certain conditions, are stated in the opinion.

Page 233 U. S. 327

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