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Opinion of the Court.
ANTHONY v. LOUISVILLE AND NASHVILLE
ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI.
No. 77. Argued and submitted November 7, 1889. — Decided November 18, 1889.
An exception to the refusal of the presiding judge at a jury trial to instruct the jury in language prayed for by counsel is of no avail, if the refusal be followed by instructions in the general charge, substantially to the same effect, but in the language of the court.
A general exception to the whole of a charge to the jury will not avail a plaintiff in error if the charge contains distinct propositions and any one of them is free from objections.
THE case is stated in the opinion.
Mr. D. P. Dyer and Mr. Nathan Frank, for plaintiff in error, submitted on their brief.
Mr. Henry W. Bond for defendant in error.
MR. JUSTICE FIELD delivered the opinion of the court.
This was an action by the plaintiff to recover damages from the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company for injuries suffered by him by reason of the derailment of a car attached to a train belonging to that company, in which he was being carried as a passenger on its line from Louisville, Kentucky, to St. Louis, Missouri.
The answer of the defendant set up that the accident was caused by reason of a latent or hidden defect or flaw in the body of a steel rail laid on the track of the road, a defect which no outward inspection could detect. Issue being joined, the case was brought to trial and certain instructions to the jury were requested by the plaintiff, which set forth, with substantial accuracy, the liability of railroad companies for having defective roads, by which accidents are caused to passengers travelling in their cars. These instructions were refused, and
Opinion of the Court.
to the refusal exceptions were taken. These exceptions, however, cannot avail the plaintiff in error, because the substance of the instructions refused was contained in the charge subsequently given by the court. The object of the instructions was to impart such information as would govern the jury in their deliberations and guide to a right conclusion in their verdict. Such information can generally be most advantageously given after the conclusion of the testimony and the argument of counsel; and it is not material whether it be then given immediately in response to the request of counsel or be contained in the formal charge of the court.
The charge itself, though embodying the substance of the instructions asked, also referred to other matters presenting distinct propositions of law; but to none of them was any exception taken, pointing out specifically the matter objected to. Only a general exception to the whole charge was made; and a general exception of that kind will not avail a plaintiff in error, where the charge contains distinct propositions and any one of them is free from objection. The whole charge must be substantially wrong before such a general exception will avail for any purpose. This is the settled law established by numerous decisions of this court. Lincoln v. Claflin, 7 Wall. 132, 139; Cooper v. Schlesinger, 111 U. S. 148, 151; Mobile & Montgomery Railway Co. v. Jurey, 111 U. S. 584, 596; Burton v. West Jersey Ferry Co., 114 U. S. 474, 476. It is also required by the fourth rule of this court, which provides as follows: "The judges of the Circuit and District Courts shall not allow any bill of exceptions which shall contain the charge of the court at large to the jury in trials at common law, upon any general exception to the whole of such charge. But the party excepting shall be required to state distinctly the several matters of law in such charge to which he excepts; and those matters of law, and those only, shall be inserted in the bill of exceptions and allowed by the court."
Whatever, therefore, may be the actual merits of the plaintiff's claim to damages, nothing is presented to us by the record which we can examine.
Statement of the Case.
YAZOO AND MISSISSIPPI VALLEY RAILROAD COMPANY v. THOMAS.
ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI.
No. 1086. Submitted October 28, 1889. - Decided November 18, 1889.
This court has jurisdiction to review, on writ of error, a decision of the highest court of a State, in which it is decided that a provision in a tax act of the State that it shall not apply to railroad corporations exempted from taxation by their charters is not applicable to a particular corporation, party to the suit, although its charter contains a provision respecting exemption from taxation.
Exemptions from taxation, being in derogation of the sovereign authority
and of common right, are not to be extended beyond the express requirements of the language used, when most rigidly construed.
The appellant's charter provided that it should" be exempt from taxation for a term of twenty years from the completion of said railroad to the Mississippi River, but not to extend beyond twenty-five years from the date of the approval of this act:" Held, that the exemption was intended to commence from and after the completion of a railroad to the Mississippi River, and was to continue thereafter for twenty years if the road was completed to the river in five years from the date of the approval of the act, but liable to be diminished by whatever time beyond five years was consumed by the completion of the road to the river.
The preamble to a statute is no part of it, and cannot enlarge or confer powers, or control the words of the act unless they are doubtful or ambiguous.
Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific Railway Co. v. Dennis, 116 U. S. 665, approved and applied.
THE case, as stated by the court in its opinion, was as follows:
The Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad Company was incorporated by an act of the Mississippi legislature, approved February 17, 1882, the preamble and sections 2, 8, 13 and 14 being as follows:
"Whereas, the construction of railroads to, in, through and along the Mississippi River basin, and the Yazoo and Sunflower River basins, penetrating these and other alluvial lands in this State, west of the Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans Railroad, and connecting them by railroads and branches with other railroads west, east, north and south, is deemed and here
Statement of the Case.
by declared to be a work of great public importance, and, in strict accordance with the true policy and interest of this State, should be encouraged by legislative sanction and liberality; and, whereas the physical difficulties of constructing and maintaining railroads to, across, along or within either the Mississippi, Sunflower, Deer Creek or Yazoo bottoms or basins, or the other alluvial lands herein referred to, are such that no private company has so far been able to establish a railroad and branches developing said basins and alluvial lands, and connecting them with the railroad system of the country: Now, therefore, in order to induce the investment of capital in the construction, maintenance and operation of such a railroad and branches, and thus develop the resources and wealth of this State:"
"SEC. 2. Be it further enacted, That the said corporation shall also have, and it is hereby authorized and invested with the right and power to build and construct, and thereafter to use, operate, own and enjoy a railroad or railroads, with one or more tracks, into, along and across that part of the State of Mississippi lying between the Mississippi River and the Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans Railroad, on such line or lines as shall be deemed best by the board of directors of the company hereby chartered; one of said lines, or a branch therefrom, to reach the Mississippi River at or near a point opposite Arkansas City if practicable, so as to connect such point on the east bank of the Mississippi River with some point or points on the line of the Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans Railroad; one of said lines of railroad, or a branch therefrom, to be extended to or pass through Yazoo City, Mississippi; and said company shall have the right and power, and are hereby authorized, to build one or more branches or lines of railroads between the Mississippi River and Deer Creek, and between Deer Creek and the Sunflower River, and between the Sunflower and Yazoo Rivers, in the direction of or to the north line of this State, and extend the same, or any one thereof, in the direction of or to the south boundary line of this State, as shall from time to time, in the judgment of said company, be deemed proper; and shall also be authorized to construct and operate such spurs or laterals from or along such main line or branches
Statement of the Case.
not exceeding one hundred miles in length, as may from time to time be necessary or proper to fully develop said country lying west of the Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans Railroad, and east of the Mississippi River, in this State; and the said company, as soon as and whenever, from time to time, they have located said line or lines of railroad or branches, spurs or laterals thereto, or any of them, shall file in the office of the secretary of State a statement showing the general line thereof as far as the same has up to that time been located."
"SEC. 8. Be it further enacted, That in order to encourage the investment of capital in the works which said company is hereby authorized to construct and maintain, and to make certain in advance of such investment, and as an inducement and consideration therefor, the taxes and burdens which this State will and will not impose thereon, it is hereby declared, that said company, its stock, its railroads and appurtenances, and all its property in this State, necessary or incident to the full exercise of all the powers herein granted - not to include compresses and oil mills-shall be exempt from taxation for a term of twenty years from the completion of said railroad to the Mississippi River, but not to extend beyond twenty-five years from the date of the approval of this act; and when the period of exemption herein prescribed shall have expired, the property of said railroad may be taxed at the same rate as other property in this State. All of said taxes to which the property of said company may be subject in this State, whether for county or State, shall be collected by the treasurer of this State and paid into the state treasury, to be dealt with as the legislature may direct; but said company shall be exempt from taxation by cities and towns."
"SEC. 13. Be it further enacted, That unless said company shall construct and have in operation twenty miles of railroad within three years from the passage of this act, the legislature shall have the right to declare this charter forfeited.
"SEC. 14. Be it further enacted, That all acts in conflict with this act, or any part thereof, be and the same are hereby repealed, and that this act take effect and be in force from and after its passage, the public welfare requiring it." Laws of Mississippi, 1882, 838.