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Opinion of the Court.
defendant, to transport freight and passengers in cars drawn by steam locomotives; that Twenty-third Street and Filbert Street, at the place in question, were public highways of the city of Philadelphia; that the construction by the defendant of the elevated railroad, and of the abutment and pier for the support of the bridge superstructure, and the operation and use of the elevated railroad to transport freight and passengers in cars drawn by steam locomotives, and the noise, burning cinders, smoke, dust and dirt, incident to the use of such railroad, had injured the plaintiff in the enjoyment of his premises, and had rendered the same incommodious, and of little or no value to him, and had deprived him of the free use of Filbert Street as a highway, and of free access to and from the wharves on the river front of his property, by the river as well as by Filbert Street, and had greatly depreciated the value of the wharves; and that the injuries were committed on the 1st of June, 1881, and at all times since.
The elevated railroad in question was built by the defendant in 1880 and 1881, and was opened for freight in April, 1881, and for passengers in December, 1881. It is known as the Filbert Street extension, and crosses the Schuylkill River a short distance above Market Street, and ends at Broad Street. From Twenty-first Street west to the river the tracks were laid upon a structure of wooden and iron beams directly over the cartway of the street, and were sustained by iron pillars some 18 inches square, resting upon the footway inside of the curb-line. This was the case along the whole length of the south side of the plaintiff's property, the structure being some 40 feet high, and the railing or guard along the track coming within one or two feet of the wall of the plaintiff's building. None of the plaintiff's property was actually taken by the defendant, but the action was brought for the consequential damages caused by the construction of the railroad and its use and operation.
The defendant set up, among other defences, that it had the right to do what it had done, without liability to the plaintiff, by virtue of its charter, contained in an act passed by the legislature of Pennsylvania, April 13, 1846, (Laws of 1846, No. 262,
Opinion of the Court.
p. 312,) and by virtue of a further act of that legislature, passed May 16, 1857 (Laws of 1857, No. 579, p. 519).
The case was tried before the court and a jury, and resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff, for $20,000, for which amount, with costs, he had judgment. On a writ of error, the judgment was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Railroad Co. v. Duncan, 111 Penn. St. 352, and the defendant has brought the case to this court by a writ of error to the court of first instance, to which the record had been remitted. Duncan having died, his administrator has been substituted as defendant in error.
The Federal question involved is whether the acts of 1846 and 1857 constituted a contract between the State and the defendant, relieving the defendant from liability in this suit, and whether such contract was of such a character that its obligation could not be impaired by subsequent legislation by the State.
It is first necessary to see what are the provisions of the statutes on which the defendant relies.
The 11th section of the act of 1846 gave authority to the defendant to construct a railroad from Harrisburg to Pittsburg, with a branch to Erie, and gave to it the right to enter upon and occupy all land necessary for the purpose, and to “take” the necessary materials from any. land adjoining or in the neighborhood of the railroad so to be constructed, “ Provided, That such compensation shall be made, secured, or tendered to the owner or owners of any such lands or materials as shall be agreed upon between the parties, or in such manner as is hereafter mentioned : Provided further, That the timber used in the construction or repair of said railroad shall be obtained from the owners thereof only by agreement or purchase.” The 12th section provided for the fixing of such compensation, when not agreed upon, through a petition to the court of quarter sessions of the proper county. The 17th section contained this provision : “And it shall be lawful for the said company, in the manner and subject to the conditions and provisions hereinbefore provided, in relation to the main line of their railroad by this act authorized to be made, to make such
Opinion of the Court.
lateral railroads or branches, leading from the main line of their said railroad, to such convenient place or points, in either of the counties into or through which the said main line of their road may pass, as the president and directors may deem advantageous, and suited to promote the convenience of the inhabitants thereof, and the interests of said company."
By the 4th section of the act of March 27, 1848, (Laws of 1848, No. 224, p. 274,) passed as a supplement to the act of 1846, provision was made for ascertaining, through the action of the court of common pleas of the proper county, the damages sustained by the owner of land or materials “taken" by the defendant, in case such compensation could not be agreed upon. Section 5 of that act provided as follows: “That if said railroad company shall find it necessary to change the site of any portion of any turnpike or public road, they shall cause the same to be reconstructed forthwith, at their own proper expense, on the most favorable location, and in as perfect a manner as the original road: Provided, That the damages incurred in changing the location of any road authorized by this section shall be ascertained and paid by said company in the same manner as is provided for in regard to the location and construction of their own road."
By $ 1 of an act passed April 12, 1851, (Laws of 1851, No. 297, p. 518,) it was provided that the 5th section of the act of 1848, should be so construed as to include the streets, lanes and alleys in any town, borough, or city through which the road passed.
By the act of May 16, 1857, before referred to, provision was made for the sale at public auction of the whole main line of the public works of the State of Pennsylvania, which included the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad. The act provided, among other things, (S 3,) that it should be lawful for any railroad company then incorporated by the State to purchase such main line for a sum not less than $7,500,000 ; and that if the Pennsylvania Railroad. Company should become the purchaser at such public sale or by assignment, (which assignment the act provided for,) it should pay in addition to the purchase-money of not less than $7,500,000
Opinion of the Court.
the further sum of $1,500,000, and should, in consideration thereof, have forever certain exemptions from taxation. This provision in regard to taxation was held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in Mott v. Pennsylvania Railroad Co., 30 Penn. St. 9, a decision made before the sale took place. The 3d section of the act further provided that it should be lawful for the purchaser “to straighten and improve the said Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, and to extend the same to the Delaware River, in the city of Philadelphia.” The 11th section of the act provided as follows: “That should any company already incorporated by this Commonwealth become the purchaser of said main line, they shall possess, hold and use the same under the provisions of their act of incorporation and any supplements thereto, modified, however, so as to embrace all the privileges, restrictions and conditions granted by this act in addition thereto; and all provisions in said original act and any supplements inconsistent with the privileges herein granted shall be and the same are hereby repealed.”
At a meeting of the stockholders of the defendant, held on the 20th of July, 1857, for the purpose of accepting or rejecting the provisions of the act of 1857, and of considering such action as the directors of the defendant had taken in pursuance of that act, subject to the approval of the stockholders, it was resolved, that the stockholders of the defendant accepted the provisions of the act, so far as the same in any way related to or affected the defendant, and ratified and approved of such action as had been taken by the board of directors of the defendant, in purchasing the said main line of the public works, pursuant to the provisions of that act, for the sum of $7,500,000. The sale at public auction had taken place on the 25th of June, 1857, and the property had been purchased by the defendant for the sum above mentioned. On the 31st of July, 1857, the State conveyed by deed poll to the defendant the property so purchased, described as in the margin.
1 « The whole main line of the public works between the said cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburg, in the State of Pennsylvania, consisting of the
Opinion of the Court.
By the constitution of Pennsylvania of 1873, which took effect January 1, 1874, it was provided as follows, by $ 8 of Article XVI: “Municipal and other corporations and individuals invested with the privilege of taking private property for public use shall make just compensation for property taken, injured, or destroyed, by the construction or enlargement of their works, highways, or improvements, which compensation shall be paid or secured before such taking, injury, or destruction.”
With these premises, we are prepared to consider the views taken of this case by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. That court gave its assent to the principle that the charter of the defendant was inviolable. It further stated that the framers of the constitution of 1873 did not intend to repeal any of the provisions of that charter. It held that § 8 of Article XVI of that constitution included not only then exist
Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, the Allegheny Portage Railroad, including the new road to avoid the inclined planes, with the necessary and convenient width for the proper use of said railroads, the Eastern Division of the Pennsylvania canal, from Columbia to the junction, the Juniata Divis. ion of the Pennsylvania canal, from the junction to the eastern terminus of the Allegheny Portage Railroad, and the Western Division of the Pennsylvania canal, from the western terminus of the Allegheny Portage Railroad to Pittsburg, and including also the right, title and interest of the Commonwealth in the bridge over the Susquehanna, at Duncan's Island, together with the same interest in the surplus water power of said canals, with the right to purchase and hold such lands as may be necessary to make the same available; and all the reservoirs, machinery, locomotives, cars, trucks, stationary engines, workshops, tools, water-stations, toll-houses, offices, stock and materials whatsoever and wheresoever thereunto belonging or held for the use of the same, and together with all the right, title, interest, claim, and demands of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to all property — real, personal and mixed — belonging unto or used in connection with the same by the said Commonwealth, and together with all and singular other the buildings, improvements, powers, authorities, ways, means and remedies, estates and interests, rights, members, incidents, liberties, privileges, easements, franchises, emoluments, reversions, remainders, rents, issues, profits, hereditaments, and appurtenances of what name, nature, or kind soever thereto belonging or in anywise appertaining, which by force and virtue of the said recited act of assembly and the provisions thereof were meant and intended and of right ought to be hereby assigned and transferred therewith.”