Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co. v Mottley

Dispute

A railroad had given Mr. and Mrs. Mottley lifetime rail passes to settle a prior claim, but after a federal law made lifetime rail passes illegal, they stopped honoring them. The Mottleys sued in federal court for breach of contract.

Questions of law

What level of relatedness to a federal law is required for subject matter jurisdiction?

Conclusions

Although the Mottleys anticipated that the federal law would be brought as a defense, this anticipation did not satisfy subject matter jurisdiction in their claim, and it was remanded for state courts to handle.

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