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Law School Case Brief

Railroad Company v. Brown - 84 U.S. (17 Wall.) 445 (1873)

Rule:

A railroad corporation cannot escape the performance of any duty or obligation imposed by its charter or the general laws of the state by a voluntary surrender of its road into the hands of lessees. The operation of the road by the lessees does not change the relations of the original company to the public. The company is not relieved from liability, unless the possession of the receiver is exclusive and the servants of the road wholly employed and controlled by him.

Facts:

Defendant in error African-American woman instituted a racial discrimination actionag against plaintiff in error railroad. Defendant purchased a railroad ticket but when she boarded a car marked for white females, she was forcibly removed. The trial court entered a judgment in her favor, and plaintiff railroad sought review.

Issue:

Is the defendant African-American woman discriminated against when a railroad forcibly removes her from a car marked for white females?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court determined that the railroad was not permitted to separate its passengers. The railroad was allowed to extend its routes under 12 Stat. 248, which left in force 12 Stat. 805. Section 805 prohibited the railroad from excluding passengers from its cars based on race.

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