|Court of Appeals of Kentucky.|
|LOUISVILLE & N. R. CO. v. WILLIAMS.|
|May 25, 1897.|
Appeal from circuit court, Knox county.
"To be officially reported."
Action by John W. Williams against the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company to recover the value of stock killed by the cars of the company.
Verdict and judgment for plaintiff, and defendant appeals.
A petition was filed on the 14th of May, 1894, and charges that on the _____ day of June, 1893, a train of the appellant ran over and killed a mare belonging to plaintiff and one Hamons, of the value of $105; that it was the result of the negligence of those in charge of the train, etc. The proof in the case is such that we do not feel justified in disturbing the verdict. The question in the case is as to the right of the railroad company to rely upon the statute of limitation in bar of the recovery. A provision of its charter is that actions like this are required to be brought within six months after the accident. The question is whether that provision of the charter is still in force.
Section 3, art. 3, c. 71, Gen. St., reads as follows: "An action for an injury to the person of the plaintiff or of his wife, child, ward, apprentice, or servant or for injuries to person, cattle, or stock by railroads, or by any company or corporation, *** shall be commenced within one year next after the cause of action accrued, and not thereafter." It will be observed by this section that, for stock killed by railroads or by any company or corporation, the action shall be commenced one year next after the cause of action accrued. The law does not favor repeals by implication. Usually, general legislation does not apply to specific acts. The language used is comprehensive enough to embrace every railroad company or corporation in the state. We think it evinces a purpose on the part of the legislature to have a uniform law upon the subject. This being in conflict with the provision of the charter in question, it is repealed. We do not think the provision of the act adopting the General Statutes, wherein statutes relating to the "powers, privileges and franchises" of a corporation are said to be excepted from its operation, was intended to or did save the mere question of remedy. The legislature had the authority to enact a statute like the one in question. It was held in Railway Co. v. Kinner, 81 Ky. 221, that a special remedy given to a railway company for the condemnation of real estate may be repealed by a general act applying to all railroads, and that there is no element of a contract in a special remedy. Assuming that the railroad company has (which we do not stop to inquire) irrevocable charter rights, still that provision of the charter which requires certain actions to be brought within six months, for injury to stock, is not one of them. It is a question for the state to determine as to what is the best policy in the matter of prescribing the time in which actions must be brought. It is purely a question of remedy, that can be altered or changed at the pleasure of the legislature. To do so does not materially interfere with the substantial enjoyment of the rights which have been granted the corporation. It was ruled in Howard v. Insurance Co., 13 B. Mon. 282, that ""the remedy may be changed by the legislature if the obligation of the contract is not thereby impaired." It was said in Insurance Co. v. Needles, 113 U. S. 580, 5 Sup. Ct. 684: "Equally implied in our judgment is the condition that the corporation shall be subject to such reasonable regulations, in respect to the general conduct of its affairs, as the legislature may, from time to time, prescribe, which do not materially interfere with or obstruct the substantial enjoyment of the privileges the state had granted, and serve only to secure the ends for which the corporation was created." In Terry v. Anderson, 95 U. S. 633, the court said: "This court has often decided that statutes of limitation affecting existing rights are not unconstitutional if a reasonable time is given for the commencement of an action before the bar takes effect. It is difficult to see why, if the legislature may prescribe a limitation where none existed before, it may not change one which has already been established. The parties to a contract have no more a vested interest in a particular limitation which has been fixed than they have in an unrestricted right to sue. They have no more a vested interest in the time for the commencement of an action than they have in the form of the action to be commenced; and, as to the forms of action or modes of remedy, it is well settled that the legislature may change them at its discretion, provided adequate means of enforcing the right remain." The statute of limitation relates to the remedy.
The judgment is affirmed.
LOUISVILLE & N. R. CO. v. WILLIAMS.
41 S.W. 287
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