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Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Brown, 234 U.S. 542 (1914)

Western Union Telegraph Company v. Brown

No. 355

Argued May 5, 1914

Decided June 22, 1914

234 U.S. 542


A recovery in one jurisdiction for a tort committed in another must be based on the ground of an obligation incurred at the place of the tort which is not only the ground, but the measure, of the maximum recovery.

A state cannot legislate so as to affect conduct outside of its jurisdiction and within territory over which the United States has exclusive jurisdiction. A state may not determine the conduct required of a telegraph company in transmitting interstate messages by determining the consequences of not pursuing such conduct in another state. The statute of South Carolina making mental anguish caused by the negligent nondelivery of a telegram a cause of action is, as applied to telegrams the negligent nondelivery of which occurred in the District of Columbia, an unconstitutional attempt to regulate conduct within territory wholly under the jurisdiction of the United

Page 234 U. S. 543

states; such statute is also unconstitutional, as to messages sent from that state to be delivered in another state, as an attempt to regulate interstate commerce.

92 S.C. 554 reversed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality of a statute of the South Carolina in regard to negligent nondelivery of telegraph messages, are stated in the opinion.

Page 234 U. S. 546

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