Parden v. Terminal R. Co. of Ala. Docks Dept.

PETITIONER: Parden
RESPONDENT: Terminal R. Co. of Ala. Docks Dept.
LOCATION: Hooper's Restaurant

DOCKET NO.: 157
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 377 US 184 (1964)
ARGUED: Feb 26, 1964 / Feb 27, 1964
DECIDED: May 18, 1964

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Parden v. Terminal R. Co. of Ala. Docks Dept.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 27, 1964 in Parden v. Terminal R. Co. of Ala. Docks Dept.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 26, 1964 in Parden v. Terminal R. Co. of Ala. Docks Dept.

Earl Warren:

Number 157, R. B. Parden et at., Petitioners, versus Terminal Railway of the Alabama State Docks Department.

Mr. Rives.

Al G. Rives:

Mr. Chief Justice, all the members of the Court, may it please Your Honors.

The question presented by this case is whether a citizen of the State of Alabama, who is an employee of a common carrier engaged in interstate commerce by railroad is deprived of his remedy of a suit for personal injuries under the Federal Employers' Liability Act because such railroad is owned by the State of Alabama and which state invokes a claim of immunity from such a suit.

The case is brought here for this question to be reviewed by this Court on a writ of certiorari that was issued to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that held the State of Alabama was constitutionally immune from such suit and had not waived such immunity.

The facts in the case are these, the State of Alabama is authorized by its constitutional amendments and by legislative enactment, to own and operate the Terminal Railway of the State Docks Department.

The legislative enactment provides that the Terminal Railway is under a duty to negotiate working agreements with its employees in accordance with the provisions of the Railway Labor Act.

And, that the State of Alabama through the State Docks Commission, will operate this Terminal Railway as though it were an ordinary common carrier.

It operates an interchange yard where it exchanges cars with the Northern National Railroad Company, the Gulf Mobile & Ohio Railroad Company, the Southern Railway Company and the Alabama, Tennessee and Northern Railroad Company.

It has extensive truckage that it uses to serve a number of private industries.

It moves freight for hire and profit.

It is a common carrier by a railroad engaged in interstate commerce.

It makes reports to the Interstate Commerce Commission concerning injuries suffered by its employees.

It keeps its accounting records so as to comply with the regulations of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

In an agreement between the Terminal Railway and the railroad brotherhood, they provide as follows, employees must not make any statement either or a writ concerning any acts of claim or sue, in which the -- the company is or maybe involved to any person other than authorized representative of the Railway without permission except in cases arising under the Federal Employers' Liability Act, otherwise known as an Act relating to the liability of common carriers by railroad to their employees in certain cases.

So it would be seen from the agreement or contract between the Railway and the railroad brotherhood.

They provided for or at least contemplated suits against the Terminal Railway.

And they provided for or at least contemplated cases under the Federal Employers' Liability Act.

The petitioners are employees of the Terminal Railway.

They were injured in line of duty while engaged in interstate commerce.

And they brought suit under the Federal Employers' Liability Act in the United States District Court at Mobile, Alabama.

The State of Alabama moved to dismiss the suits of the petitioners claiming immunity from such suits and claiming that they could not be maintained in the United States District Court.

Petitioners contend that the State of Alabama by accepting the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, delegated to the Congress the power to regulate commerce between the several states, and thereby surrender its rights of sovereignty on that power that was granted to the Congress.

Now, Chief Justice Marshall in Gibbons versus Ogden had this to say about the power to regulate such commerce, we are now arrived at the enquiry.

What is this power?

It is the power to regulate.

That is to prescribe the rule by which commerce is to be governed.

This power is complete, in itself, and maybe exercised to its utmost extent.

The Congress, in the exercise of this power granted to the -- to it by the states under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, enacted the Federal Employers' Liability Act which provides that every common carrier by railroad engaged in interstate commerce shall be liable to such -- to any employee of such carrier while engaged in such commerce for any injury resorting in whole or in part from the negligence of the officers, agents or employees of the carrier or by reason of any defect or insufficiency due to the negligence of the carrier and its cars, engines, track, roadbed works or other equipment.

And, also provided that the right thereunder -- for the right thereunder suit, could be maintained in the United States District Court.