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									                        LOUISVILLE AND NASHVILLE RAILRAD v. MOTTLEY

Case Reminder

Citation                 Louisville and Nashville Railroad v Mottley. 211 U.S. 149 (1908)

Statement of the case


Statement of fact        This is a civil action appearing in Federal Court. Erasmus and Annie Mottley
                         were injured in a railway accident. To settle their claims the railroad in 1871
                         gave them a lifetime pass good for free transportation on the line. Several
                         decades later, Congress, believing that railroads were using free transportation ot
                         bribe public officials made free passes unlawful. The railroad thereupon refused
                         to honor the Mottleys’ passes, citing the new federal legislation. The Mottleys
                         sued in federal court seeking specific performance of their settlement.

                         Both parties are citizens of Kentucky. In their complaint the plaintiffs argue that
                         the defense will make a response based upon a constitutional issue. This is why
                         the suit was filed in federal court. The defendant filed a demurrer to the
                         complaint. The federal trial court overruled the demurrer and granted relief to the
                         plaintiffs. Defendant railroad appealed to the Supreme Court.

Issue                    Does an allegation in the complaint that a constitutioaln defense will be raised in
                         the answer raise a federal question which would give a federal court jurisdiction
                         if there is no diversity of citizenship?

Decision                 NO

Rule                     Alleging an anticipated constitution defense in the complaint does not give a
                         federal court jurisdiction if there is no diversity of citizenship between the two

Reasoning                Court states that the only way in which it might be claimed that a federal
                         question was presented would be in the complainants statement of what the
                         defense of defendants could be and complainant’s answer to such defense. Under
                         these circumstances the case is brought within the rule

                         That a suit arises under the Constitution and law of the United States occurs only
                         when the plaintiffs statement of his own casuse of action shows that it is based
                         upon those laws or that constitution. Not based upon some belief that a defendant
                         will make a certain claim.


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