Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

the fact that the whistle was not blown, nor signal made, was no evidence of negligence.” And, again : “There is as perfect a duty to guard against an accidental injury to a night intruder into one's bed-chamber as there is to look out for trespassers upon a railroad where the public has no right to be.” No reference is made in the opinion to Lynch v. Nurdin, 1 Q. B. 29, a decision much controverted, but one which has stood its ground. But in that case the careless act of the defendant, in leaving a horse and cart standing in a public street without anybody to watch it, amounted to a nuisance, and it is to be distinguished on that ground. Had it been left standing on an open, unenclosed lot, the ruling in all probability would have been different. Yet a doubt has been more than once expressed, whether when a child receives an injury from indulging in what is called “the natural instinct of a child,” by getting up behind a gentleman's carriage whilst it is in motion, or standing in charge of a coachman, though without a servant on the footboard, the principle of Lynch v. Nurdin would apply: Wilson v. Brett, 11 M. & W. 113; Lygo y. Newbold, 9 Exch. 302. It would matter not, so far as his master was concerned, whether the coachman allowed it or not.

The application of this principle to the determination of the case in hand is not difficult. The plaintiff may not have been technically a trespasser. The platform was open; there was a general license to pass over it. But he was where he had no legal right to be. His presence there was in no way connected with the purposes for which the platform was constructed. Hlad it been the hour for the arrival or departure of a train, and he had gone there to welcome a coming or speed a parting guest, it might very well be contended that he was there by the authority of defendants, as much as if he was actually a passenger, and it would then matter not how unusual might have been the crowd, the defendants would have been responsible. As to all such persons to whom they stood in such a relation as required care on their part, they were bound to have the structure strong enough to bear all who could stand on it. As to all others they were liable only for wanton or intentional injury. The plaintiff was on the spot merely to enjoy himself, to gratify his curiosity or to give vent to his patriotic feelings. The defendants had nothing to do with that. They were conveying the President of the United States and his party on a special excursion train. They

must have stopping-places. They were certainly under no obligation to keep them secret. On the occasion in question it seems that they meant to do so in order to prevent detention and confusion. As we have seen, they cannot be made liable by the unauthorized act of one of their employees, through whom it leaked out what the hour was the train was expected to arrive at Johnstown, nor for that of another in backing up the train so as to give the people who had assembled an opportunity of seeing and hearing the President. I am bound to have the approach to my house sufficient for all visitors on business or otherwise; but if a crowd gathers upon it to witness a passing parade and it breaks down, though it may be shown not to have been sufficient even for its ordinary use, I am not liable to one of the crowd, -I owe no duty to him. If a traveller by foot, on the open track of a railroad, crosses a bridge, which ought to be, but is not in its ordinary use, strong enough to bear a locomotive and train of cars, and a rotten board breaks down under him, the company are not liable to him, for they owe him no duty. However much to be lamented' was the sad occurrence which occasioned this suit, and however much sympathy may be felt for those who were injured, and the families of those who lost their lives, we are of the opinion that the circumstances of the case were not such as to cast any pecuniary responsibility on the railroad company, and that the learned judge below was therefore right in directing the jury to find a verdict for the defendants.

Judgment affirmed.

The foregoing case is one which ex stated that the defendants were possessed cited great interest, not only in the of land with a canal and cuttings interlocality, but throughout the profession secting the same, and of bridges across in the state, having been regarded as a the canal and cuttings communicating test case upon which would depend the with and leading to certain docks of the fate of more than two hundred actions defendants, which land and bridges were of the same kind, brought against the used with the consent and permission of railroad company by parties injured by the defendants, by persons proceeding the unfortunate accident at Johnstown, to and coming from the docks; that they in September 1866.

wrongfully and improperly kept and The full list of authorities cited, ren- maintained the land, canal, cuttings, ders it unnecessary for us to do more and bridges, and suffered them to be in than add a brief note of two English so improper a state and condition as to cases reported since the argument. render them unsafe for persons lawfully

In Gautret, Administrator, v. Egerton, passing along and over the said land and Law Rep. 2 C. P. 371, the declaration bridges towards the said docks; and

Vol. XVII.-47

that one G. lawfully passing over and being occupied. With the permission using the bridges, through the wrongful, of the station-master, he went to his negligent, and improper conduct of the wagon, which was shunted in the usual defendants, fell into one of the cuttings place, took some coal from the top of and was drowned.

the wagon, and descended on to the Defendants demurred, on the ground flagged path. The flag he stepped on that the declaration stated no actionable

gave way, and he fell into one of the breach of duty by defendants, and the cells and was injured. It was held that, demurrer was sustained, WillES, J., although not getting his coal in the saying: “ The consequences of these usual mode, the plaintiff was not a mere accidents are sought to be visited upon licensee, but was engaged with the conthese defendants, because they have al- sent and invitation of the defendants, in lowed persons to go over their land, not a transaction of common interest to alleging it to have been upon the busi- both parties, and was, therefore, entitled ness or for the benefit of the defendants, to require that the defendants' premises or as the servants or agents of the de- should be in a reasonably secure condifendants ; nor alleging that the defend- tion. BRAMWELL, B., said: “I have ants have been guilty of any wrongful had considerable doubts, and am not act, such as digging a trench on the wholly free from them. If the plaintiff land, or misrepresenting its condition, had gone where he did by the mere or anything equivalent to laying a trap license of the defendants, he would have for the unwary passengers; but simply gone there subject to all the risks atbecause they permitted these persons to tending his going ; as for instance, if he use a way with the condition of which, went there to see something that was going for anything that appears, those who on in a neighboring field. If, therefore, suffered the injury were perfectly well this had been the first occasion of such acquainted. That is the whole sum and an errand, he would have had no claim. substance of these declarations. *

But many people had been in the habit Every man is bound not wilfully to de- of going to unload their wagons by tipceive others, or do any act that may ping, and it became a practice, so that place them in danger; *** but I can- consignees might consider it as part of not conceive that he could incur any their contract to go and assist in that responsibility merely by reason of his operation. I have had great doubt allowing the way to be out of repair.” whether all such persons were not mere

The same question was considered in licensees, and I have that doubt still; the very recent case (May 1869) of for the defendants might at any time Holmes v. N. E. Railway Co., Law Rep. say to them, “you have no right to go 4 Exch. 254. At the defendants’ station there," and prevent them from doing so. at C. it was the habit to unload coal- Still, I think they come within the dewagons by shunting them and tipping scription of persons invited to go there, the coal into cells; it was also the prac- in the same sense in which the public tice for the consignces of the coal, or their are invited to walk into a shop. They servants, to assist in the unloading, and are persons

who are, in effect, told that for that purpose to go along a flagged they may safely do that which it is for path by the side of the wagons. The the convenience of both parties to kare plaintiff was consignee of a coal-wagon, done.which could not be unloaded in the See also Robbins v. Jones, 15 C. B. usual way, on account of all the cells (109 E. C. L. R.) 221. J. T. M.

Supreme Court of the United States.


The Confederate States, though not a de facto government in the highest sense of that term, were a government of paramount force having actual supremacy within certain territorial limits, and therefore a de facto government in such a sense as made civil obedience to their authority the duty of the inhabitants of the territory under their control.

Confederate notes as contracts in themselves are nullities, but they must be regarded as a currency imposed on the citizens of the insurrectionary states by irresistible force, and therefore contracts for payment in such currency, made between citizens of the Confederacy in the ordinary course of civil business and without direct intent to assist the insurrection are valid, and will be enforced by the courts of the United States.

A contract to pay dollars made between citizens of any state maintaining its constitutional relations with the National Government, is a contract to pay lawful money of the United States, and cannot be modified or explained by parol evidence.

But the word dollars if used in a contract between citizens of a foreign state could be shown by parol evidence to mean dollars of a different kind from United States dollars, and the same rule must apply to a contract between citizens of the Confederate States.

A party entitled to be paid in Confederate notes, can only recover their actual value at the time and place of the contract in lawful money of the United States.

APPEAL from the Circuit Court of the United States, for the Middle District of Alabama.

This was a bill in equity for the enforcement of a vendor's lien.

Smith & Hartley purchased from Thorington a piece of land, and executed to him their promissory note for part of the purchase-money.

But it was insisted by way of defence that the negotiation for the purchase of the land took place, and that the note in controversy, payable one day after date, was made at Montgomery, in the state of Alabama, where all the parties resided in November 1864, at which time the authority of the United States was excluded from that portion of the state, and the only currency in use consisted of Confederate treasury notes, issued and put in circulation by the persons exercising the ruling powers of the states in rebellion, known as the Confederate government.

It was also insisted that the land purchased was worth no more than $3000 in lawful money; that the contract price was $15,000; that this price, by the agreement of the parties, was to be paid in Confederate notes; that $35,000 were actually paid in these

notes, and that the note given for the remaining $10,000 was to be discharged in the same manner, and it was claimed on this state of facts that the vendor was not entitled to relief in a court of the United States.

This view was sustained in the court below, and the bill was dismissed.

The opinion of the court was delivered by
CHASE, C. J.--The questions before us upon appeal are these :-

1. Can a contract for the payment of Confederate notes, made during the late rebellion, between parties residing within the socalled Confederate States, be enforced at all in the courts of the United States?

2. Can evidence be received to prove that a promise expressed to be for the payment of dollars was in fact for the payment of any other than lawful dollars of the United States ?

3. Does the evidence on the record establish the fact that the note for $10,000 was to be paid, by agreement of the parties, in Confederate notes ?

The first question is by no means free from difficulty.

It cannot be questioned that the Confederate notes were issued in furtherance of an unlawful attempt to overthrow the government of the United States by insurrectionary force. Nor is it a doubtful principle of law that no contracts made in aid of such an attempt can be enforced through the courts of the country whose government is thus assailed.

But was the contract of the parties to this suit a contract of that character? Can it be fairly described as a contract in aid of the rebellion ?

In examining this question the state of that part of the country in which it was made must be considered.

It is familiar history that early in 1861 the authorities of seven states, supported, as was alleged, by popular majorities, combined for the overthrow of the National Union, and for the establishment within its boundaries of a separate and independent confederation. A governmental organization representing these states was established at Montgomery, in Alabama, first under a provisional constitution, and afterwards under a constitution intended to be permanent.

In the course of a few months four other states acceded to this

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »