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Opinion of the Court.
ing municipal corporations, but also then existing “other corporations.” It further held, that the defendant did not derive its authority to build the branch road in question, from the western side of the Schuylkill River, through Filbert Street, from the act of 1846, because that act embraced only the power to build and operate a road from Harrisburg to Pittsburg ; but that it derived such authority from the act of May, 1857, in the 11th section thereof, before quoted; and that the convention which made the constitution of 1873 had the power to subject the defendant's exercise of the right of eminent domain to the provision that it should make just compensation, not only for the property which it might choose to “ take,” in the strict sense of that word, but also for such as it might injure or destroy.
We think these views are sound. There was no such contract between the State and the defendant, prior to the constitution of 1873, as prevented the subjection of the defendant by that constitution to the liability for consequential damages arising from its construction of this elevated road in 1880 and 1881. Prior to the constitution of 1873, and under the constitutional provisions existing in Pennsylvania before that time, the Supreme Court of that State had uniformly held that a corporation with such provisions in its charter as those contained in the charter of the defendant, was liable, in exercising the right of eminent domain, to compensate only for property actually taken, and not for a depreciation of adjacent property. The Sth section of Article XVI of the constitution of 1873 was adopted in view of those decisions, and for the purpose of remedying the injury to individual citizens caused by the nonliability of corporations for such consequential damages. Although it may have been the law in respect to the defendant, prior to the constitution of 1873, that under its charter and the statutes in regard to it, it was not liable for such consequential damages, yet there was no contract in that charter, or in any statute in regard to the defendant, prior to the constitution of 1873, that it should always be exempt from such liability, or that the State, by a new constitutional provision, or the legislature, should not have power to impose such liability upon it,
Opinion of the Court.
in cases which should arise after the exercise of such power. But the defendant took its original charter subject to the general law of the State, and to such changes as might be made in such general law, and subject to future constitutional provisions or future general legislation, since there was no prior contract with the defendant, exempting it from liability to such future general legislation, in respect of the subject matter involved.
This principle is well set forth in the opinion of the justices of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, given by them in answer to a question submitted to them by the senate of that Commonwealth, in In re Provident Institution for Savings, 9 Cush. 604. See, also, Nelson v. Vermont & Canada Railroad Co., 26 Vermont, 717; Thorpe v. Rutland & Burlington Railroad, 27 Vermont, 140; Branin v. Connecticut & Passumpsic Railroad, 31 Vermont, 214; Frankford Railway v. The City, 58 Penn. St. 119; Baltimore & Susquehanna Railroad v. Nesbit, 10 How. 395, 399, 400 ; Pumpelly v. Green Bay Co., 13 Wall. 166; Railroad Co. v. Hecht, 95 U.S. 168, 170 ; Beer Co. v. Massachusetts, 97 U. S. 25, 32, 33 ; Newton v. Commissioners, 100 U. S. 548, 557; Missouri Pacific Railway v. Humes, 115 U.S. 512; 1 Hare's American Const. Law, 609, 610; 2 Morawetz on Private Corporations, 2d ed. SS 1062, 1065, 1067; Cooley's Const. Limit., 4th ed. * 574, 716.
The provision contained in the constitution of 1873 was merely a restraint upon the future exercise by the defendant of the right of eminent domain imparted to it by the State. By its terms, it imposes a restraint only upon corporations and individuals invested with the privilege of taking private property for public use, and extends the right to compensation, previously existing, for property taken, to compensation for property injured or destroyed by the construction or enlargement of works, highways or improvements, made or constructed by such corporations or individuals. Such provision is eminently just, and is intended for the protection of the citizen, the value of whose property may be as effectually destroyed as if it were in fact taken and occupied. The imposition of such a liability is of the same purport as the imposition of a liability
for damages for injuries causing death, which result from neg. ligence, upon corporations which had not been previously subjected by their charters to such liability. Boston, Concord &c. Railroad v. The State, 32 New Hampshire, 215 ; South Western Railroad v. Paulk, 24 Georgia, 356; Duncan v. Pennsylvania Railroad, 94 Penn. St. 435; Georgia Railroad & Banking Co. v. Smith, 128 U. S. 174; Cooley's Const. Limit., 4th ed. * 581, 724; 1 Hare's American Const. Law, 421.
Nor will the exemption claimed from future general legislation, either by a constitutional provision or by an act of the legislature, be admitted to exist, unless it is expressly given, or unless it follows by an implication equally clear with express words. In the present case, the statutory provisions existing prior to the constitution of 1873, in favor of the defendant, cannot be properly interpreted so as to hold that the State parted with its prerogative of imposing the liability in question, in regard to future transactions. Providence Bank v. Billings, 4 Pet. 514; Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge, 11 Pet. 420; Christ Church v. Philadelphia, 24 How. 300; Gilman v. City of Sheboygan, 2 Black, 510; Tucker v. Ferguson, 22 Wall. 527; Fertilizing Co. v. Hyde Park, 97 U. S. 659; Newton v. Commissioners, 100 U. S. 548, 561; 2 Hare's American Const. Law, 661, 663, 664.
ARON v. MANHATTAN RAILWAY COMPANY.
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF
THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK.
No. 43. Argued October 28, 29, 1889. – Decided November 11, 1889.
The first five claims of letters patent No. 288,494, granted to Joseph Aron,
as assignee of William W. Rosentield, the inventor, November 13, 1883, for an “improvement in railway car gates,” are invalid, because what
Rosentield did did not require invention. The same devices employed by him existed in earlier patents; all that he
did was to adapt them to the special purpose to which he contemplated their application, by making modifications which did not require inven
Opinion of the Court.
tion, but only the exercise of ordinary mechanical skill; and his right to a patent must rest upon the novelty of the means he contrived to carry his idea into practical application.
IN EQUITY. Decree dismissing the bill. Plaintiff appealed. The case is stated in the opinion of the court.
Mr. M. B. Philipp for appellant.
Mr. Edwin H. Brown for appellee. Mr. Julien T. Davies was with him on the brief.
MR. JUSTICE BLATCHFORD delivered the opinion of the court.
This is a suit in equity, brought by Joseph Aron against the Manhattan Railway Company, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York, to recover for the infringement of letters patent No. 288,494, granted to the plaintiff, as the assignee of William W. Rosenfield, the inventor, November 13, 1883, for an “improvement in railway car gates,” the application for the patent having been filed April 3, 1883. The Circuit Court, held by Judge Wallace, dismissed the bill, and the plaintiff has appealed.
The specification of the patent says: “In many classes of railway cars, and particularly those used upon the elevated and other city railways, it has been found necessary, in order to prevent passengers from falling from the train, and also to prevent persons from attempting to get off or on a car while in motion, to provide the entrances to the car-platforms with gates, by which they can be closed except at the proper times. These gates are usually in charge of a guard or attendant, whose duty it is to close the gates before the train commences to move, and to open them only after the train has come to a full stop. As there is usually but one guard or attendant stationed between each two adjoining cars, it follows that to open or close both gates he must pass around from one to the other of the adjoining platforms. This passing from one platform to the other, besides being a source of annoyance to the guard, occasions some delay, which is very annoying to the passengers, particu
Opinion of the Court.
larly at times when a large number are required to get off or on a car in a very short time. It is the object of the present invention, among other things, to provide means by which the guard or attendant can, without changing his position, open or close both gates simultaneously and with the least possible delay. To that end one feature of the invention consists in providing the gates with connections so arranged that any two adjoining gates can be simultaneously opened or closed by the guard while standing in the passage-way leading from one of the cars to the other."
The drawings annexed to the patent represent two ordinary railway cars, with platforms adjoining each other, and the usual entrances from the station platform, and gates of the ordinary construction for closing such entrances. The gates are hinged in the usual manner to posts which rise from the corners of the platforms, and close against the usual jambs which project from the sides of the cars. The platforms are provided with the usual guard-railings, extending inward from the above-mentioned posts to similar posts which are located a sufficient distance apart to leave a passage-way from one car to the other. When the gates are thus arranged, it is necessary, in order to close or open both gates, for the guard to pass from one platform around the inner post to the opposite platform, thus causing some delay in opening and closing one of the gates, adding to the labor of the guard, and causing annoyance to the passengers. In order to avoid this, each of the gates is provided, at a suitable distance from its hinge, with a curved lever, which extends rearward and terminates a short distance outside of the guard-railing. This lever is connected by a link, e, with a rod, f, which slides in or on a suitable bearing secured to the guard-railing, and is provided at its inner end with a handle by which it can be operated. The guard or attendant, while standing in the passage-way, can, by grasping the two handles and pushing or pulling the rods, f, open or close both gates simultaneously and without loss of time.
The specification states that the rods, f, will preferably be provided with some form of locking mechanism by which the