Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

Opinion of the Court.

are really based upon what he alleges to be the conduct of the officer in charge. The plaintiff characterizes the actions of this officer as " unwarranted, unreasonable, and offensive," and charges that the officer manifested toward the plaintiff personal antagonism. If these charges are true, if they are borne out by the evidence, then the plaintiff is entitled to some relief. Or if the plaintiff can establish the fact that his losses were caused by the action of the officer in charge he should be paid for them. It is true that during the progress of the work there were differences and misunderstandings between the plaintiff and the officer in charge of the work. He was arbitrary and overbearing in some instances. His conduct called forth a reprimand from his chief and the suggestion that he should have some one as a go-between between him and the plaintiff. But, notwithstanding this, in all essential particulars the officer in charge did not cause any loss or damage to the plaintiff. The misunderstandings were as to trival things; the arbitrary actions of the officer did not go to important matters and did not entail loss upon the plaintiff. And, while his overbearing manners were disagreeable and inexcusable, they were not the cause of the plaintiff's losses. The officer in charge was an upright man, and his conduct can not be charged to bad faith, nor does the evidence sustain the charge of "personal antagonism."

It is hard to say just what caused the plaintiff to lose money on his contract. After it was over he found that he had lost and looked around for some way to recoup these losses. He brought this suit, but it must be plain to anyone who has carefully examined the evidence that the causes of action set out are wholly speculative; and there is nothing in this record which would authorize the court to render a judgment against the defendants.

It follows that the petition must be dismissed as to all of the items, except the item of $2,000, shown to have been withheld by the defendants; and it is so ordered.

DOWNEY, Judge; BARNEY, Judge; BooтH, Judge; and CAMPBELL, Chief Justice, concur.

Argument for the Defendants.

MISSOURI PACIFIC RAILWAY COMPANY v. THE

UNITED STATES.

[No. 31672. Decided December 3, 1917.]

On the Proofs.

Mail pay; statutes, construction of.-Congress by the act of March 4, 1911, 36 Stat., 1335, in providing that no pay shall be allowed for the use of "wooden full railway post-office cars run in any train between adjoining steel cars" did not intend that this provision should apply to cars with steel underframes.

Object of statutes considered, when.-It is only where the language of a statute is not clear or is of doubtful construction that the court may consider the evil intended to be remedied.

Departmental construction, when not considered.-Departmental construction of a statute will be considered only when the true construction is uncertain.

The Reporter's statement of the case:

Messrs. Benjamin Carter and Philip M. Ashford for the plaintiff.

Mr. Joseph Stewart, with whom was Mr. Assistant Attorney General Huston Thompson, for the defendants.

The term "steel cars" included steel underframe cars as well as all-steel cars within the meaning of the act under consideration as intended by Congress. This intent may be 'gathered not only from the language of the act but from a consideration of the evil which Congress sought to remedy by the legislation. That evil was the hazard to life and limb of the railway postal clerks who distributed the mails in wooden full railway post-office cars en route. That hazard and the purpose to remove it is amply shown by the history of the times as evidenced by the reports of the Postmaster General and the debates in Congress.

In Holy Trinity Church v. United States, 143 U. S., 457, the Supreme Court points out with clearness, quoting ancient and modern authorities, that the reason for the law in such cases shall prevail over its letter; that courts have construed statutes quite contrary to the letter in some appearance and that those statutes which comprehend all things in the letter

Argument for the Defendants.

have been expounded to extend to but some things, and those which generally prohibit all people from doing such an act they have interpreted to permit some people to do it, and that those which include every person in the letter, they have adjudged to reach to some persons only, and that all these constructions of statutes have been founded upon the intent of the lawmaking body, which intent has been collected sometimes by considering the cause and necessity of making the act, sometimes by comparing one part of the act with another, and sometimes by foreign circumstances. (Id., 459.)

Following this rule of ascertainment of intention, we should inquire into the evil which was sought to be remedied. The court in the above-cited case said:

"Again, another guide to the meaning of a statute is found in the evil which it is desired to remedy; and for this the court properly looks at contemporaneous events, the situation as it existed, and as it was pressed upon the attention of the legislative body. United States v. Union Pacific Railroad, 91 U. S., 72, 79." (Id., 463.)

From the reports of the Postmaster General there can be no doubt that at all times the safety of the railway postal clerks was the first consideration with the department in encouraging and requiring, where practicable, the operation of railway post-office cars of the highest type of construction and safety. This could be best accomplished by requiring all railway post-office cars to be constructed of steel or with steel underframes; but where wooden full railway postoffice cars were operated it was intended that they should be placed in a train in connection with other cars in such a position as to safeguard the lives of the clerks, and certainly not in such a position as to entail additional danger by operation between cars of stronger construction than the wooden

cars.

The act of August 24, 1912, which followed in time the provision now under discussion, distinctly recognized the two types of cars as permissible in providing that

"After the first of July, nineteen hundred and seventeen, the Postmaster General shall not approve or allow to be used or pay for any full railway post-office car not con

Argument for the Defendants.

structed of steel or steel underframe or equally indestructible material, and not less than twenty-five per centum of the railway post-office cars of a railroad company not conforming to the provisions of this act shall be replaced with cars constructed of steel annually after June, nineteen hundred and thirteen; and all cars accepted for this service and contracted for by the railroad complete after the passage of this act shall be constructed of steel

* *

By the provisions of this act all steel underframe cars built and operated by July 1, 1917, were approved by Congress for additional payment for their operation. Unless the words "steel cars" in the act of March 4, 1911, shall be construed as including steel underframe cars as well as all-steel cars the purpose sought thereby to be accomplished, namely, the safeguarding of the lives of the postal clerks, was partially nullified by the provision of the act of August 24, 1912, which permitted the operation of all steel underframe cars then in the service; for there can be no doubt that in case of accident the destruction to a wooden car would be just as great when operated between steel underframe cars as when operated between all-steel cars.

In Smythe v. Fiske, 23 Wall., 374, 380, the Supreme Court said that

"A thing may be within the letter of a statute and not within its meaning, and within its meaning, though not within its letter. The intention of the lawmaker is the law."

In Lau Ow Bew v. United States, 144 U. S., 47, the court said:

"Nothing is better settled than that statutes should receive a sensible construction, such as will effectuate the legislative intention, and, if possible, so as to avoid an unjust or an absurd conclusion."

The claimant company was fully informed by the officers of the department as to the construction which would be placed upon the act in question, and at all times operated the wooden cars, for which it is claiming additional compensation in disregard of the law as so construed and with the full knowledge that the department, under its view of the law, could not allow them additional pay for such operation. Furthermore, they were informed that if they did operate

Opinion of the Court.

the wooden cars in this manner, while no additional compensation could be paid under the provisions of law authorizing payment for full railway post-office cars, such operation of the wooden cars would not in fact be without compensation, for Revised Statutes, section 4002, specifically provides, as one of the conditions upon which a railroad company may earn its transportation pay, that it shall furnish sufficient and suitable room in which the railway postal clerks may accompany the mails and distribute them en route. The operation of such cars was, therefore, not without compensation but with full compensation for the character of the service rendered. The companies simply forfeited a right to the additional compensation provided for under other acts, because the wooden cars were operated in a manner discouraged by the department and by Congress as endangering the lives and the limbs of railway postal clerks.

HAY, Judge, reviewing the facts found to be established, delivered the opinion of the court:

The plaintiff brings this suit to recover the sum of $223.02, being the amount which was deducted by the Post Office Department in making settlement with the plaintiff for the transportation of mails over the plaintiff's line of railroad during the period from July 1, 1911, to February 1, 1912, the Post Office Department having refused the plaintiff compensation for wooden full railway post-office cars on the ground that said cars were operated either between the engine and a steel underframe car or between a steel and a steel underframe car. There is no dispute about the facts. The cars in question were constructed strictly in accordance with the departmental specifications for such cars. These cars were operated between the engine and a steel underframe car or between a steel and a steel underframe car. The case turns upon the construction of the act of Congress of March 4, 1911, 36 Stat., 1335, which, in so far as it concerns this case, reads as follows:

"For railway post-office car service, $5,010,000: Provided, That no part of this amount shall be paid for the use of any car which is not sound in material and construction, and which is not equipped with sanitary drinking water containers and toilet facilities, nor unless such car is regularly and

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »