Cincinnati Railway Company v. Interstate Commerce Commission
United States Supreme Court
CINCINNATI RAILWAY COMPANY v. INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION
On October 18, 1889, the James & Mayer Buggy Company, a corporation of the state of Ohio, and doing business at Cincinnati, filed a complaint before the interstate commerce commission against the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railway Company, the Western & Atlantic Railroad Company, and the Georgia Railroad Company, alleging that said defendants were common carriers 'under a common control, management, or arrangement for continuous carriage or shipment,' and charged the same rate for transporting vehicles shipped by the complainants from Cincinnati, whether shipped to Atlanta, Ga., a distance of about 474 miles, or to Augusta, Ga., a distance of 645 miles, and charged 30 cents per 100 pounds more on such vehicles shipped to Social Circle, Ga., than when shipped to either Atlanta or Augusts.
The Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railway extends from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, Tenn. The road of the Western & Atlantic Railroad Company begins at Chattanooga and extends to Atlanta, and that of the Georgia begins at Atlanta and ends at Augusta. These respondents filed answers, from which, and from the allegations of the complaint, it appeared that the complainants shipped their goods, at first-class rates, by through bills of lading, from Cincinnati to Atlanta, to Social Circle, and to Augusta; that through rates of $1.07 per 100 pounds were charged to both Atlanta and to Augusta, of which the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railway Company received 55.7 cents; the Western & Atlantic, 22.9 cents; and the Georgia Railroad Company, 28.4 cents. Social Circle is a local station on the Georgia Railroad, 52 miles east of Atlanta, and 119 miles west of Augusta. When goods were shipped to Social Circle the complainants had to pay $1.37 per 100 pounds, of which 75.9 cents went to the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Company, 31.1 to the Western & Atlantic, and 30 cents to the Georgia,-the said amount of 30 cents per 100 pounds being the local charge made by the Georgia Company on similar freight carried by it from Atlanta to Social Circle.
The complainants contended that, as the rate to Augusta was $1.07 per 100 pounds, that charge was excessive when made against similar freight carried to Atlanta, which is 171 miles nearer to the point of shipment. They also contended that the charge of $1.37 to Social Circle was excessive and undue, as the defendants carried similar freight for $1.07 to Augusta, a greater distance by 119 miles.
The respondents claimed that they were justified in charging the same rate to Augusta as to Atlanta, because the former was a competitive point; and, as to the rates to Social Circle, they claimed that the goods were not carried to that point under a common control, management, or arrangement for continuous carriage or shipment, but that the additional 30 cents per 100 pounds was the local charge for similar service by the Georgia Company, and that, therefore, the case of goods carried to Social Circle was not within the provisions of the act to regulate commerce.
The controversy before the commission resulted in an order requiring the defendants to cease and desist from making any greater charge in the aggregate on buggies, carriages, and other freight of the first class, carried in less than car loads from Cincinnati to Social Circle, than they charged on such freight from Cincinnati to Augusta, and to cease and desist from making any charge for the transportation of such freight from Cincinnati to Atlanta in excess of $1 per 100 pounds. This order was dated June 29, 1891, and was to operate from July 20, 1891.
The defendants having refused to obey this order, and failed to alter or modify their charges, the interstate commerce commission filed a bill or petition in the circuit court of the United States for the Northern district of Georgia, seeking to enforce the said order.
To this bill the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company and the Central Railroad & Banking Company of Georgia filed a joint and several answer, in which they alleged that the said companies jointly operated the railroad from Atlanta to Augusta as assignees of one William Wadley, to whom that road had been previously leased by the Georgia Railroad & Banking Company, a corporation of the state of Georgia, and that they so operated said railroad under the adopted name of the 'Georgia Railroad Company,' but that there was no such corporation as the 'Georgia Railroad Company.' This answer further denied the allegation of the petition of the commission in so far as they charged that rates charged by them were undue or excessive, or in disregard of the provisions of the act to regulate commerce.
An answer was filed by the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railway Company, traversing the allegations of the bill, so far as it alleged the charging of undue or unreasonable rates to Atlanta or to Social Circle. The Western & Atlantic Railroad Company set up in its answer that it had no existence as a corporation at the time of the proceedings before the interstate commerce commission, and had no connection with the matters therein complained of, and therefore prayed that, as against it, the petition of the commission should be dismissed. This position was subsequently abandoned.
Under the issues thus formed a considerable amount of testimony was taken. The cause came on to be heard, was argued by counsel, and thereupon, on June 5, 1893, the court, holding that the matters of equity alleged in the bill were fully denied in the answers, and were not sustained by the proof, decreed that the bill be dismissed. 56 Fed. 925.
From this decree an appeal was taken to the United States circuit court of appeals for the Fifth circuit, and was there so proceeded in that on May 27, 1894, the decree of the circuit court was reversed, and the cause was remanded to that court with instructions to enter a decree in favor of the interstate commerce commission and against the defendants; commanding the latter to cease and desist from making any greater charge in the aggregate, on buggies, carriages, and on other freight of the first class carried in less than car loads, from Cincinnati to Social Circle, than they charge on such freight from Cincinnati to Augusta. 9 C. C. A. 689.
Appeals were taken from this decree, and errors assigned, respectively, by the defendants and by the commission.
N. J. Hammond and Geo. F. Edmunds, for the interstate commerce commission.
Ed. Baxter, for Cincinnati, N. O. & T. P. Ry. Co. and others.
Mr. Justice SHIRAS, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.