Louisville & Nashville R.R. Co. v. Mottley

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Louisville & Nashville R.R. Co. v. Mottley
Court U.S. Supreme Court
Citation 211 US 149 (1908)
Date decided


Facts: The Mottleys were riding on a train operated by the defendant. While riding on the train, they were injured. As settlement, the defendant offered free transportation for life in a contract. 36 years later, the defendant declined to renew the passes after Congress passed a bill that forbade the giving away of free passes.

Procedural History: The Mottleys brought suit in District Court. Defendant demurred. Circuit court overruled the dumurrer, and the defendant appealed to the Supreme Ct.

Issue: The issue isn't really whether the Act of Congress forbids the giving of free passes or collection of any different compensation for transportation of passengers than that specified in the tariff filed, even if a contract had been agreed upon before the passing of that act. Nor is the issue really whether the previously mentioned Act of Congress constitutional if it prevents the contract that had been agreed to before the passage of the act. Those issues aren't important because the federal court doesn't have subject matter jurisdiction. The case is a contracts case, subject to state jurisdiction.

Holding: No jurisdiction.

Reasons: Just because one of the parties might use the Constitution as a part of their defense doesn't mean that the dispute "arises" under the constitution.

Judgment: Reversed, lower court must dismiss suit.