162 U.S. 184 (1896), Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway

Citation:162 U.S. 184, 16 S.Ct. 700, 40 L.Ed. 935
Party Name:Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway
Case Date:March 30, 1896
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 184

162 U.S. 184 (1896)

16 S.Ct. 700, 40 L.Ed. 935

Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway

United States Supreme Court

March 30, 1896




When a state railroad company whose road lies within the limits of the state enters into the carriage of foreign freight by agreeing to receive the goods by virtue of foreign through bills of lading and to participate in through rates and charges, it thereby becomes part of a continuous line not made by a consolidation with the foreign companies, but by an arrangement for the continuous carriage or shipment from one state to another, and thus becomes amenable to the federal act in respect to such interstate commerce, and, having thus subjected itself to the control of the Interstate Commerce Commission, it cannot limit that control in respect to foreign traffic to certain points on its road to the exclusion of other points.

When goods shipped under a through bill of lading, or in any other way indicating a common control, management, or arrangement from a point in one state to a point in another state are received in transit by a state common carrier, such carrier, if a railroad company, must be deemed to have subjected its road to an arrangement for a continuous carriage or shipment within the meaning of the Act to Regulate Commerce.

The Interstate Commerce Commission is not empowered either expressly or by implication to fix rates in advance, but, subject to the prohibitions that their charges shall not be unjust or unreasonable and that they shall not unjustly discriminate so as to give undue preference or disadvantage to persons or traffic similarly circumstanced, the Act to Regulate Commerce leaves common carriers as they were at the common law, free to make special contracts looking to the increase of their business, to classify their traffic, to adjust and apportion their rates so as to meet the necessities of commerce, and generally to manage their important interests upon the same principles which are regarded as sound, and adopted in other trades and pursuits.

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[16 S.Ct. 700] On October 18, 1889, the James and 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 and Texas Pacific Railway Company, the Western and Atlantic Railroad Company, and the Georgia Railroad Company alleging that said defendants were common carriers "under a common control, management, or arrangement [16 S.Ct. 701] for continuous carriage or shipment," and charged the same rate for transporting vehicles shipped by the complainants from Cincinnati, whether shipped to Atlanta, Georgia, a distance of about 474 miles, or to Augusta, Georgia, a distance of 645 miles, and charged 30 cents per hundred pounds more on such vehicles shipped to Social Circle, Georgia, than when shipped to either Atlanta or Augusts.

The Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway extends from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, Tennessee. The road of the Western and 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 hundred pounds were charged to both Atlanta and to Augusta, of which the Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway Company received 55.7 cents; the Western and 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 hundred pounds, of which 75.9 cents went to the Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Company, 31.1 to the Western and Atlantic, and 30 cents to the Georgia -- the said amount of 30 cents per hundred pounds being the local charge made by the Georgia Company on similar freight carried by it from Atlanta to Social Circle.

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The complainants contended that, as the rate to Augusta was $1.07 per hundred 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 hundred 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 carloads 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 hundred 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 and Nashville Railroad Company and the Central Railroad and 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

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and 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...

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