CHICAGO, B & Q R. CO. v. HARRINGTON(1916)
[241 U.S. 177, 178] Messrs. O. M. Spencer, William Warner, Oliver H. Dean, H. M. Langworthy, and William D. McLeod for plaintiff in error.
Mr. J. G. L. Harvey for defendant in error.
Mr. Justice Hughes delivered the opinion of the court:
Margaret Harrington brought this action to recover damages for the death of her husband, Patrick Harrington, a switchman employed by the plaintiff in error. She obtained judgment under the state law, the plaintiff in error contending unsuccessfully that the decedent was engaged in interstate commerce and that the case was governed by the Federal employers' liability act. 180 S. W. 443. The state court said, in its statement of facts:
The plaintiff in error takes exception to the statement in part, asserting that there was no evidence that any of the locomotives, which were supplied with fuel from the coal chutes, were engaged exclusively in intrastate commerce, or that any of the defendant's trains within the state were engaged exclusively in that commerce. For the present purpose, we may assume the fact to be as stated by the plaintiff in error, and we may also assume, as it insists, that there was no evidence that the coal had been brought from mines within the state of Missouri or from mines owned by the plaintiff in error. With the movement of the coal to the storage tracks, however, we are not concerned; that movement had long since ended, as it is admitted that the coal was owned by the company, and 'had been in storage in its storage tracks for a week or more prior to the time it was being switched into the coal chutes on the morning of the accident.' So, also, as the question is with respect to the employment of the decedent at the time of the injury (Illinois [241 U.S. 177, 180] C. R. Co. v. Behrens, 233 U.S. 473, 478 , 58 S. L. ed. 1051, 1055, 34 Sup. Ct. Rep. 646, Ann. Cas. 1914C, 163), it is not important whether he had previously been engaged in interstate commerce, or that it was contemplated that he would be so engaged after his immediate duty had been performed. That duty was solely in connection with the removal of the coal from the storage tracks to the coal shed, or chutes, and the only ground for invoking the Federal act is that the coal thus placed was to be used by locomotives in interstate hauls.
As we have pointed out, the Federal act speaks of interstate commerce in a practical sense suited to the occasion, and 'the true test of employment in such commerce in the sense intended is, Was the employee at the time of the injury engaged in interstate transportation, or in work so closely related to it as to be practically a part of it?' Shanks v. Delaware, L. & W. R. Co. 239 U.S. 556, 558 , 60 S. L. ed. 436, 36 Sup. Ct. Rep. 188, and cases there cited. Manifestly, there was no such close or direct relation to interstate transportation in the taking of the coal to the coal chutes. This was nothing more than the putting of the coal supply in a convenient place from which it could be taken as required for use. It has been held that an employee of the carrier, while he is mining coal in the carrier's colliery, intended to be used by its interstate locomotives, is not engaged in interstate commerce within the meaning of the Federal act (Delaware, L. & W. R. Co. v. Yurkonis, 238 U.S. 439 , 59 L. ed. 1397, 35 Sup. Ct. Rep. 902), and there is no distinction in principle between the two cases. In Great Northern R. Co. v. Knapp, 240 U.S. 464 , 60 L. ed. 745, 36 Sup. Ct. Rep. 399, the question whether the employee was engaged in interstate commerce was not presented, as the application of the Federal statute was conceded in the state court.