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WELLS FARGO & CO. V. TAYLOR, 254 U. S. 175 (1920)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wells Fargo & Co. v. Taylor, 254 U.S. 175 (1920)

Wells Fargo & Co. v. Taylor

No. 41

Argued December 19, 1919

Decided December 6, 1929

254 U.S. 175


1. Where the district court sustains a bill in equity against a demurrer and, upon final hearing, renders a decree for the plaintiff, a reversal ordered by the circuit court of appeals purely because of an amendable deficiency of the bill, and unaccompanied by any direction that the bill be dismissed or implication forbidding its amendment, leaves the district court free to permit the amendment, and the fact that the circuit court of appeals, in denying a petition for rehearing, refused to direct the allowance of the amendment signifies merely that it saw no occasion to control the district court's discretion in the matter. P. 254 U. S. 181.

2. The provision of the Judicial Code (§ 265, formerly Rev.Stats., 720) forbidding any court of the United States to grant an injunction to stay proceedings in any court of a state is intended to give effect to the principle of comity and to prevent unseemly interference with the orderly disposal of litigation in the state courts, but not to hamper the federal courts in the discharge of duties otherwise plainly cast upon them by the Constitution and by the laws of Congress. P. 254 U. S. 182.

3. The inhibition does not forbid the federal courts to enjoin a party from collecting a judgment obtained in a state court where its enforcement would be contrary to recognized principles of equity and the standards of good conscience. P. 254 U. S. 183. See headnote 6, infra.

4. An arrangement between a railroad company and an express company whereby, in consideration of stipulated payments, the former grants to the latter the exclusive privilege of conducting the express business over its line, and transports, by cars provided by it and attached to its passenger trains, the express matter and accompanying messengers of the latter, besides furnishing room in its stations for the express company's use, and under which the latter assumes all risk of damage to its property and express matter so transported and of injury to its agents and employees while engaged in its business on the trains or property of the railroad company, and agrees to indemnify that company against claims for damages suffered by chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 254 U. S. 176

such agents or employees while so engaged, does not create a partnership relation, but constitutes the business of the express company distinct from that of the railroad company, so that an employee of the express company, while employed as its messenger on an express car in course of transportation, cannot be treated as an employee of the railroad company for the purpose of applying the Employers' Liability Act. P. 254 U. S. 186.

5. The Employers' Liability Act, applicable to "every common carrier by railroad," does not embrace an express company conducting its business under such an arrangement with a railroad company. P. 254 U. S. 187.

6. An express company operating over a railroad under an agreement by which it assumed all risk of injury to its employees while engaged in its business on the trains of the railroad company and agreed to indemnify that company against such claims, employed a messenger who, as a condition to his employment, assented to this understanding and agreed on his part to assume all risk of injury incident to his employment, from whatever cause arising. The employee was injured by the negligence of the railroad company while in discharge of his duties to the express company, and recovered judgment against the railroad company in an action in a state court in which the express company was not a party and could not be heard. He was financially irresponsible. Held that his contract was valid, and bound him to the express company not to assert such a liability against either company, and that the express company was equitably entitled to enforce the obligation by a suit against him in the district court (diverse citizenship being present) in which collection of the judgment should be enjoined. P. 254 U. S. 188.

249 F.1d 9 reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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