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U.S. Supreme Court

Boston & Maine Railroad v. Armburg, 285 U.S. 234 (1932)

Boston & Maine Railroad v. Armburg

No. 477

Argued February 24, 25, 1932

Decided March 14, 1932

285 U.S. 234


1. Under the Massachusetts Workmen's Compensation Act, an employer not electing to comply with the Act by effecting the prescribed insurance for the benefit of his employees is deprived, in an action brought by an employee to recover for personal injuries sustained in the course of his employment, of the defenses of negligence of a fellow servant and assumption of risk. The state court construed the Act to be applicable to a carrier engaged in both intrastate and interstate commerce, but not to such of its employees as, at the time of injury, were engaged in interstate commerce. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 285 U. S. 235

Held, as thus construed, the Act does not, on its face, impose any burden on interstate commerce. Pp. 285 U. S. 237-238.

2. The Federal Employers' Liability Act does not exclude the exertion of state power over employees of interstate carriers while engaged in services not involving interstate commerce. P. 285 U. S. 238.

3. The objection that the Massachusetts Act invades the field already occupied by federal legislation, in that it applies to all employees engaged in intrastate commerce, although at the same time and in the same service some may be engaged in interstate commerce, is not open to a carrier (who did not elect to comply with the Act) in an action for personal injuries brought by an employee who, at the time of the accident, was not engaged in interstate commerce. Pp. 285 U. S. 238-239.

4. As construed by the state court, the Act does not extend to employees engaged at the time of injury in interstate commerce, even though at the same time their service is also in intrastate commerce. P. 285 U. S. 239.

5. The insurance provisions of the Act, in their application to an interstate carrier and as construed by the state court, require the premiums to be based on so much of the carrier's payroll as may be allocated to the hours of employment in intrastate commerce.


(1) It is not self-evident that the Act is unworkable, and there was nothing in the record enabling the Court to say that such allocation was either impossible or so difficult as necessarily to impose a burden on interstate commerce. Pp. 285 U. S. 239-240.

(2) The burden was on the carrier, who assailed the statute, to establish its unconstitutionality. P. 285 U. S. 240.

276 Mass. 418, 177 N.E. 665, affirmed.

Certiorari, 284 U.S. 609, to review a judgment of the Municipal Court of Boston, entered on rescript from the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, in an action against a railroad company by an employee to recover damages for personal injuries sustained in the course of his employment. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 285 U. S. 236

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