|20 Ky.L.Rptr. 77, 103 Ky. 375|
|Court of Appeals of Kentucky.|
|LOUISVILLE & N. R. CO. v. WILLIAMS.|
|March 26, 1898.|
Appeal from circuit court, Knox county.
"To be officially reported."
Action by J. W. Williams against the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company.
From a judgment in favor of plaintiff, defendant appeals.
The petition was filed on the 14th day of May, 1894, in which it is averred that on the -- June, 1893, the train of the appellant ran over and killed a mare belonging to the 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 action was not brought within six months after the mare was killed. There is a provision in the charter of the appellant which requires actions like this to be brought within six months after the accident.
Two questions are involved in this case:
(1) Has the legislature the right to repeal that provision of the charter of the appellant which requires the owner of stock killed by the negligence of the appellant, its employes or servants, to bring the action therefor within six months after the stock had been killed?
(2) Has that provision of the charter of the appellant which requires such action to be brought within six months been repealed?
Assuming (without so deciding) that the railroad company has irrevocable charter rights, still that provision of the charter which requires an action 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 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."
In the former opinion delivered in this case the court's attention was not called to some decisions of this court on the question as to whether the six- months limitation provisions of the appellant's charter and similar charters were in force after the adoption of the General Statutes. The court's attention was in which the court adjudged valid the charter provisions requiring actions to be brought within six months after the stock was killed.
This plea of limitation defeated the recovery. We perceive no reason why the act is in violation of the constitution. Various causes of action exist by reason of legislation against railroad companies that cannot be maintained against a natural person. The rules of evidence have been changed, as applied to this class of companies, by placing the burden on the company to relieve itself of a prima facie case arising from the act of killing, although the stock is trespassing on the road of the appellee. These provisions have been held constitutional, and it seems to us there is nothing in the objection made. The original road, brought into existence by the act of incorporation, was sold with all its rights, franchises, immunities, etc.; and, passing to the purchaser, he became invested with the rights of the old corporation, including the right to interpose the plea of limitation as a bar to the recovery."
In view of these decisions, we deem it unnecessary to enter into a discussion as to whether the General Statutes repealed the provision of the charter of the appellant which we have been considering. More than six months had elapsed from the time the mare was killed to the institution of this action; hence the statute of limitation was available as a defense to the action.
The judgment is reversed for proceedings consistent with this opinion.
LOUISVILLE & N. R. CO. v. WILLIAMS.
45 S.W. 229, 20 Ky.L.Rptr. 77, 103 Ky. 375
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