Port of Boston Marine Terminal Association v. Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

400 U.S. 62

Port of Boston Marine Terminal Association  v.  Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic

 Argued: Oct. 22, 1970. --- Decided: Dec 8, 1970


Petitioner Terminal Association, a maritime terminal operators conference operating under an agreement approved by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), pursuant to § 15 of the Shipping Act, 1916, revised a tariff on file with the agency by shifting the incidence of a wharf demurrage charge from consignees to carriers. When several carriers refused to pay the revised charge, which had not previously been approved by the FMC, the Terminal Association sued the association that represented them and their agents (Shipping Association). The District Court stayed the proceedings to allow the Shipping Association to obtain from the FMC a ruling on the validity of the change. After a hearing, the FMC concluded, on June 23, 1967, that its prior approval of the revised tariff was not necessary under § 15 of the Act. On September 19, 1967, the Shipping Association filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for review which that court dismissed for lateness. On September 4, 1968, respondent, a carrier that had been assessed charges, made application to the FMC for reconsideration (on the basis of a decision this Court rendered after the FMC's ruling), which the FMC returned as untimely filed under its rules. Thereupon respondent, contending that its agent had inadequately represented it in the proceeding brought by the Shipping Association, sought and was allowed to intervene in the still-pending action in the District Court. That court, concluding that the FMC had primary jurisdiction of the subject matter of the dispute and that the District Court did not have jurisdiction to review the FMC's decision, rendered judgment against the Shipping Association and respondent. Respondent appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed on the merits, after concluding that respondent was not a party to the FMC proceeding and was therefore free to seek independent collateral review in the District Court of that agency's order. Held;

1. The FMC, the agency responsible under the Shipping Act for supervising conferences of marine terminal operators and uniquely qualified to consider disputes involving overall conference policies, had primary jurisdiction over the question whether prior administrative approval of the tariff amendment was required. Pp. 68-69.

2. The District Court correctly concluded that it had no authority to review the FMC's decision, which constituted a final order and as such, under the Administrative Orders Review Act, was exclusively reviewable by the Court of Appeals. Pp. 69-71.

3. Respondent, having been represented by its agent in the administrative hearing and having also had every opportunity to participate before the FMC and to seek timely review in the Court of Appeals, cannot collaterally attack the FMC's order. Pp. 71-72.

4. When the case returned to the District Court, the time for review by the Court of Appeals had expired, precluding any judicial review on the merits of the FMC decision. P. 210.

420 F.2d 419, reversed.

John M. Reed, Boston, Mass., for petitioners.

Daniel M. Friedman, Washington, D.C., for the United States and Federal Maritime Commission, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court.

George F. Galland, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).