No right is held more sacred, or is more carefully guarded, by the common law, than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person, free from all restraint or interference of others, unless by clear and unquestionable authority of law. The right to one's person may be said to be a right of complete immunity: to be let alone.
The personal injury appellee was a passenger in a train owned by appellant railroad when the berth in which she was sleeping collapsed on her, rupturing the membranes of her brain and spinal cord. Appellee filed suit against appellant for negligence in the construction of the car which allegedly caused her permanent injuries. The trial court denied appellant's motion for an order requiring appellee to submit to a surgical examination in order to determine the extent of her alleged injuries suffered as a passenger. The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the denial of appellant's motion to surgically examine appellee.
Could the court, upon appellant's application and in advance of the trial, order appellee, without her consent, to submit to a surgical examination in order to determine the extent of her alleged injuries suffered as a passenger?
The order moved for, subjecting appellee’s person to examination by a surgeon, without her consent and in advance of the trial, was not according to the common law, or to the statutes of the United States.