Cairo and Fulton Railroad Company v. Hecht

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

95 U.S. 168

Cairo and Fulton Railroad Company  v.  Hecht

ERROR to the Supreme Court of the State of Arkansas.

The Cairo and Fulton Railroad Company having been sued in the Circuit Court of Clay County, Arkansas, service was had on the tenth day of September, 1873, by leaving a copy of the summons with a clerk of the company.

Judgment was rendered by default. A motion was subse quently made to set the default aside, on the ground that there had been neither legal service upon nor appearance by the company. This motion having been overruled, the company appealed to the Supreme Court of the State, where the judgment below was affirmed. The company then brought the case here.

The company was incorporated by an act of the legislature of Arkansas, approved Jan. 12, 1853.

The thirteenth section of that act provides as follows:

'This act shall be deemed a public act, and shall be favorably construed for all the purposes therein expressed and declared in all courts and places whatever, and shall be in force from and after its passage: Provided, that all the rights, privileges, immunities, and franchises contained in the charter granted at this session of the legislature of this State to the Mississippi Valley Railroad Company, not restricting or inconsistent with this act, are hereby extended to and shall form a part of this incorporation as fully as if the same were inserted herein.'

The charter of the Mississippi Valley Railroad Company was granted by an act approved Jan. 12, 1853, the twenty-fourth section of which provides that 'process on said company shall be served on the president by leaving a copy to his address, at the principal office of the corporation, in the hands of any of its officers.'

An act passed in 1868 provides that 'where the defendant is a corporation, created by the laws of this State, the service of the summons may be upon the president, mayor, chairman of the board of trustees, or other chief officer; or, if its chief officer is not found in the county, upon its cashier, treasurer, secretary, clerk, or managing agent.'

It will be seen that service in this case was made pursuant to the latter act, and not to the provisions of the charter.

The company here assigns for error that its charter constitutes a contract between it and the State, and that the subsequent act under which the process was served impairs the obligation of the contract, and is therefore in violation of sect. 10, art. 1, of the Constitution of the United States.

Mr. U. M. Rose for the plaintiff in error cited Oliver v. Memphis Railroad Co., 30 Ark. 129; St. Louis Railroad Co. v. Loftin, id. 693; Bronson v. Kinzie, 1 How. 311; Commonwealth v. United States Bank, 2 Ashm. (Pa.) 349; Aurora Turnpike Co. v. Holthouse, 7 Ind. 59; Powell v. Sammons, 31 Ala. N. S. 552; Cairo & Fulton Railroad Co. v. Turner, 31 Ark. 494.

No counsel appeared for the defendants in error.

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


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).