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CHESAPEAKE AND OHIO RAILWAY COMPANY v. DIXON.

decided: November 19, 1900.

CHESAPEAKE AND OHIO RAILWAY COMPANY
v.
DIXON.



ERROR TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF KENTUCKY.

Author: Fuller

[ 179 U.S. Page 135]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER delivered the opinion of the court.

The question to be determined is whether the Court of Appeals of Kentucky erred in affirming the action of the Boyd circuit court in denying the application to remove. And that depends on whether a separable controversy appeared on the face of plaintiff's petition or declaration.If the liability of defendants, as set forth in that pleading, was joint, and the cause of action entire, then the controversy was not separable as matter of law, and plaintiff's purpose in joining Chalkey and Sidles was immaterial. The petition for removal did not charge fraud in that regard or set up any facts and circumstances indicative thereof, and plaintiff's motive in the performance of a lawful act was not open to inquiry.

By section 241 of the constitution of Kentucky it is provided that "whenever the death of a person shall result from an injury inflicted by negligence or wrongful act, then, in every such case, damages may be recovered for such death, from the corporations and persons so causing the same."

Section 6 of the Kentucky statutes provides: "Whenever the death of a person shall result from an injury inflicted by negligence or wrongful act, then in every such case, damages may be recovered for such death from the person or persons, company or companies, corporation or corporations, their agents or servants, causing the same, and when the act is wilful or the negligence is gross, punitive damages may be recovered, and the action to recover such damages shall be prosecuted by the personal representative of the deceased."

The cause of action thus created is independent of any right of action the deceased may have had, or would have had if he had survived the injury; and in this case the Court of Appeals held that the company and its engineer and fireman were jointly liable for Dixon's death, if caused by the negligence of those employes; and that the cause of action as alleged against all the defendants was an entire cause of action. The court also held that such cause of action was sufficiently proven, but we are dealing with the pleadings alone.

Counsel for plaintiff in error contends, however, that plaintiff's

[ 179 U.S. Page 136]

     complaint does not state a joint cause of action against the corporate and individual defendants, but states a separate cause of action against the railway company and a separate cause of action against the other defendants.

It is conceded that if an action be brought on a joint cause of action it makes no difference that separate causes of action may have existed on which separate actions might have been brought, and furthermore that it makes no difference that in an action on a joint cause of action a separate recovery may be had against either of the defendants; while it is insisted that if two or more separable controversies appear from the averments it is not material whether they have been properly or improperly joined.

If the liability was not joint then separable controversies existed, and the argument is that the averment that the negligence complained if "was the joint negligence of all the defendants" merely stated the conclusion of law that the company and its employes were jointly liable in the action for the injury inflicted through the negligence of the latter in the course of and within the scope of their employment, and this conclusion is denied on the ground that the liability of the company as alleged rested on a wholly different basis from that of the liability of its servants.

In Warax v. Cincinnati, N.O. & T.P. Railway Company, 72 Fed. Rep. 637, Taft, J., held that there were separable controversies in such cases, because the liability of the master for the negligence of his servants in his absence, and without his concurrence or express direction, arises solely from the policy of the law which requires that he shall be held responsible for the acts of those he employe, done in and about his business, while the liability of the servant arises wholly from his personal act in doing the wrong.

This view of the ground of the master's liability is expressed by Mr. Pollock in his work on Torts, (Amer. ed. 89, 90,) thus: "I am answerable for the wrongs of my servant or agent, not because he is authorized by me or personally represents me, but because he is about my affairs, and I am bound to ...


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