This was an action under the Employers' Liability Act
The evidence, in that view of it which must be taken here, was to the following effect: The defendant was operating a railroad for the transportation of passengers and freight in interstate and intrastate commerce, and the plaintiff was an iron worker employed by the defendant in the alteration and repair of some of its bridges and tracks at or near Hoboken, New Jersey. On the afternoon of his injury the plaintiff and another employe, acting under the direction of their foreman, were carrying from a tool car to a bridge, known as the Duffield bridge, some bolts or rivets which were to be used by them that night or very early the next morning in "repairing that bridge," the repair to consist in taking out an existing girder and inserting a new one. The bridge could be reached only by passing over an intervening temporary bridge at James Avenue. These bridges were being regularly used in both interstate and intrastate commerce. While the plaintiff was carrying a sack of bolts or rivets over the James Avenue bridge, on his way to the Duffield bridge, he was run down and injured by an intrastate passenger train, of the approach of which its engineer negligently failed to give any warning.
The Circuit Court ruled that an injury resulting from the negligence of a co-employe engaged in intrastate commerce was not within the terms of the Federal act, and the Circuit Court of Appeals, although disapproving that ruling, held that under the evidence it could not be said that the plaintiff was employed in interstate commerce and therefore he was not entitled to recover under the act.
Considering the terms of the statute, there can be no doubt that a right of recovery thereunder arises only where the injury is suffered while the carrier is engaged in interstate commerce and while the employe is employed by the carrier in such commerce; but it is not essential,
That the defendant was engaged in interstate commerce is conceded, and so we are only concerned with the nature of the work in which the plaintiff was employed at the time of his injury. Among the questions which naturally arise in this connection are these: Was that work being done independently of the interstate commerce in which the defendant was engaged, or was it so closely connected therewith as to be a part of it? Was its performance a matter of indifference so far as that commerce was concerned, or was it in the nature of a duty resting upon the carrier? The answers are obvious. Tracks and bridges are as indispensable to interstate commerce by railroad as are engines and cars, and sound economic reasons unite with settled rules of law in demanding that all of these instrumentalities be kept in repair. The security, expedition and efficiency of the commerce depends in large measure upon this being done. Indeed, the statute now before us proceeds upon the theory that the carrier is charged with the duty of exercising appropriate care to prevent or correct "any defect or insufficiency . . . in its cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, roadbed, works, boats, wharves, or other equipment" used in interstate commerce. But independently of the statute, we are of opinion that the work of keeping such instrumentalities in a proper state of repair while thus used is so closely related to such commerce as to be in practice and in legal contemplation a part of it. The contention to the contrary proceeds upon the assumption that interstate commerce by railroad can
True, a track or bridge may be used in both interstate and intrastate commerce, but when it is so used it is none the less an instrumentality of the former; nor does its double use prevent the employment of those who are engaged in its repair or in keeping it in suitable condition for use from being an employment in interstate commerce.
The point is made that the plaintiff was not at the time of his injury engaged in removing the old girder and inserting the new one, but was merely carrying to the place where that work was to be done some of the materials to be used therein. We think there is no merit in this. It was necessary to the repair of the bridge that the materials be at hand, and the act of taking them there was a part of that work. In other words, it was a minor task which was essentially a part of the larger one, as is the case when an engineer takes his engine from the roundhouse to the track on which are the cars he is to haul in interstate commerce. See Lamphere v. Oregon
What has been said shows that there was evidence to sustain a finding that at the time of the plaintiff's injury the defendant was engaged, and he was employed by it, in interstate commerce, and, as in other respects the case was one for the jury, the court rightly denied the defendant's request that a verdict in its favor be directed. A motion for a new trial was interposed by the defendant, but no ruling was had upon it, doubtless because the court concluded that it could and should render judgment for the defendant on the evidence notwithstanding the verdict. In this the court was in error, first, because it was without authority so to do (Slocum v. New York Life Insurance Co., 228 U.S. 364), and, second, because the evidence did not warrant such a judgment. Unless the motion for a new trial was well taken, judgment should have been given for the plaintiff on the verdict, and, subject to that qualification, the plaintiff is now entitled to such a judgment.
The judgments of the Circuit Court and the Circuit Court of Appeals are reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.
MR. JUSTICE LAMAR with whom concurred MR. JUSTICE HOLMES and MR. JUSTICE LURTON, dissenting:
I am unable to assent to the proposition that a man carrying bolts to be used by him in repairing a railroad bridge was employed in interstate commerce.
Transportation has been defined as commerce, and those engaged in transportation are employed in commerce. But in building the bridge originally the carrier was not "engaging in commerce between the States," and the plaintiff, in subsequently repairing it, was not
The act provides that "every common carrier by railroad, while engaging in commerce between any of the States or Territories . .. shall be liable in damages to any person suffering injury while employed by such carrier in such commerce."
The defendant, though engaged in both interstate and intrastate commerce was also engaged in many other incidental activities which were not commerce in any sense.
The railroad had to be surveyed and built, bridges had to be constructed and renewed, cars had to be manufactured and repaired, warehouses had to be built and painted, wages had to be paid and books kept; but these transactions, though incident to it were not transportation, and, therefore, not within the purview of the statute limited to persons employed in commerce. Otherwise the law would embrace "all of the activities in any way connected with trade between the States and exclude state control over matters purely domestic in their nature." Hooper v. California, 155 U.S. 648, 655. Acts burdening interstate commerce can, of course, be prohibited by Congress. But when Congress itself limits the operation of the statute to persons injured while employed in interstate commerce the statute does not extend to its incidents and is confined to transportation. It does not include manufacturing, building, repairing, for they are not commerce, whether performed by a private person, a railroad, or its agents.
It is conceded that a line must be drawn between those employes of the carrier who are employed in commerce and those engaged in other departments of its business. It must be drawn so as to take in on one side those engaged in transportation, which is commerce, otherwise there is no logical reason why it should not include every
This view is supported by the two cognate statutes. The Hours of Service Law applies only to those "engaged in the movement of trains" and the Safety Appliance Law refers, not to machines in like manner applies to those engaged in transportation and not to those employed in building, manufacturing or repairing.
The plaintiff was carrying bolts to be used in repairing a bridge. That was not interstate commerce, and in my opinion the court below properly held that his rights were to be determined by the laws of the State of New Jersey and not by the act of Congress.
MR. JUSTICE HOLMES and MR. JUSTICE LURTON concur in this dissent.