171 U.S. 312 (1898), New Orleans v. Texas & Pacific Railway Company

Citation:171 U.S. 312, 18 S.Ct. 875, 43 L.Ed. 178
Party Name:New Orleans v. Texas & Pacific Railway Company
Case Date:May 31, 1898
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 312

171 U.S. 312 (1898)

18 S.Ct. 875, 43 L.Ed. 178

New Orleans

v.

Texas & Pacific Railway Company

United States Supreme Court

May 31, 1898

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED

STATES FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA

Syllabus

Where an undertaking on one side is in terms a condition to the stipulation on the other -- that is, where the contract provides for the performance of some act or the happening of some event, and the obligations of the contract are made to depend on such performance or happening, the conditions are conditions precedent; but when the act of one is not necessary to the act of the other, and the loss and inconvenience can be compensated in damages, performance of the one is not a condition precedent to the performance of the other.

It being shown by the record that the railway terminus from which the extension along Claiborne Street was to be made was never constructed, and that the crossing from Westwego to the land in front of the park was also never established, but, on the contrary, that the company extended its road down the river to Gouldsboro, where it made its main crossing, the right to the extension and the right to the use of the batture no longer obtains.

The suspensive condition by which the rights of the company under the original ordinance were held in abeyance operates also upon the lease, and the mere payment of rent did not change the nature of the suspensive condition or work an estoppel.

Page 313

The ends of justice will be best subserved by not passing upon the third assignment of error, but the rights of both parties in relation thereto may be left open for further consideration in the court below.

[18 S.Ct. 875] The New Orleans Pacific Railway Company became duly incorporated under the general laws of the State of Louisiana on June 29, 1875. By article I of its charter, it was given corporate existence for the term of twenty-five years from that date. By article III, it was empowered, among other things,

to lay, construct, lease, own, and use a railroad with one or more tracks and suitable turntables upon such course or route as may be deemed by a majority of the directors of said company most expedient, beginning at a point on the Mississippi River at New Orleans, or between New Orleans and the Parish of Iberville, on the right bank of the Mississippi, and Baton Rouge on the left bank, or from New Orleans or Berwick's Bay via Vermilionville, in the Parish of Lafayette, and Opelousas, in the Parish of St. Landry, or from any of said points, or from any point within the limits of this state, and running thence toward and to the City of Shreveport, or the City of Marshall or Dallas, in the State of Texas, in such direction and route or routes as said company shall fix, and with such connecting branches in the State of Louisiana as may be deemed proper; to locate, construct, lease, own, maintain and use such branch railroads and tracks as the majority of the directors of said company may from time to time deem proper and expedient and for the interest of said company to own and to use, and lease, with the right to connect their main line with any other line or lines in other states, which shall authorize the exercise of said privilege within their limits: to establish and maintain in the City of New Orleans proper freight and passenger depots, and to connect them by tracks and ferries with the left bank of the Mississippi River at such point or points as may be deemed most convenient for the public interest, and to use in such ferries, steamboats and other vessels, and for the purposes of such depots, tracks and ferries to acquire property by expropriation; to acquire, construct, maintain and use suitable wharves, piers, warehouses, yards, steamboats, harbors, depots, stations and other

Page 314

works and appurtenances connected with and incidental to said railway and its connections, and to run and manage the same as the directors of the said company may deem to be most expedient and to the welfare of said corporation; to construct and maintain its said railroads, or any part of the same, and to have the right of way [18 S.Ct. 876] therefor across or along or upon any waters, water courses, river, lake, bay, inlet, street, highway, turnpike or canal within the State of Louisiana which the course of said railways may intersect, touch or cross, provided that said company shall preserve any water course, street, highway, turnpike or canal which its railways may so pass upon, along or intersect, touch or cross so as not to impair its usefulness to the public unnecessarily; to obtain by grant or otherwise from any parish, city or village within the state any rights, privileges or franchises that any of said parishes, cities, or villages may choose to grant in reference to the construction, maintenance, management and use of the railroads of said company, its depots, cars, locomotives and its business within the limits of such or any of said parishes, cities, and villages; to purchase or lease from any railroad company or corporation at any authorized sale, any railroad and the charter, franchises, property and appurtenances thereof and to maintain and use the same as a part of the property of said company.

On February 19, 1876, the General Assembly of the State of Louisiana passed Act No. 14 of 1876, to confirm said charter of the railway company, with amendments thereto, which, among other things, declared

that the term of existence of the said New Orleans Pacific Railway Company shall be so extended that said company, by its name and under the aforesaid mentioned articles of incorporation, shall have perpetual succession, and that Shreveport in Louisiana shall be the northwestern terminus of said New Orleans Pacific Railway Company, and that the main line shall be completed to Shreveport before any branches shall be constructed.

The City Council of New Orleans on November 9, 1880, adopted ordinance No. 6695, entitled

An ordinance granting to the New Orleans Pacific Railway Company or its

Page 315

assigns, the right to establish its terminus within its city limits, and to construct, maintain, and operate a railroad to and from such terminus with one extension for passenger purposes and another one for freight purposes into and through certain streets and places in the City of New Orleans.

This ordinance read:

Whereas, the New Orleans Pacific Railway Company, a corporation organized and existing under Louisiana state laws, is vested with authority under an Act approved February 19, 1876, as follows, to-wit:

To locate, construct, lease, own and use a railroad, with one or more tracks and suitable turnouts, of such gauge and construction and upon such a course or route as may be deemed by a majority of the directors of said company most expedient,

and to and between the points and places mentioned and implied in said act, and is hereby authorized "to establish and maintain in the City of New Orleans proper freight and passenger depots," and to construct wharves, piers, warehouses, yards, depots and stations, and to

construct and maintain its said railroads or any part of the same, and to have the right of way therefor across and along and upon any street, highway, turnpike or canal in the State of Louisiana which the course of said railways may intersect, touch or cross, provided, the said company shall preserve any street, highway, turnpike or canal which its said railways may so pass upon, along or intersect, touch or cross, so as not to impair its usefulness to the public unnecessarily,

and

Whereas, it is for the interest of the City of New Orleans that the southern terminus of said railroad shall be fixed and established within the city limits; and,

Whereas, the said New Orleans Pacific Railway Company is desirous of constructing its line of road on the east bank of the Mississippi, from a crossing near Baton Rouge to some point in the City of New Orleans between the new canal and Melpomene Street, and to establish its terminus at such point, on condition that the city shall grant to the company the right to extend its tracks from such terminus into and through Claiborne Street to Canal Street, for passenger purposes, and

Page 316

shall also grant the right to extend its tracks from such terminus north of Claiborne Street by the most convenient and practicable route through the public streets to the riverfront for freight purposes, with the right to operate the same by steam or otherwise, as is now done on the Belt Railroad on St. Joseph Street, and on the levees by other railroad companies in the City of New Orleans:

Now therefore, for the purpose of permanently securing to the City of New Orleans the advantages that will result from locating and maintaining the terminus of the said New Orleans Pacific Railway within the city limits:

Section 1. Be it ordained by the Council of the City of New Orleans, that the New Orleans Pacific Railway Company be, and it is hereby, authorized and empowered to locate, construct, and maintain a railroad, with all necessary tracks, switches, turnouts, sidings and structures of every kind convenient and useful and appurtenant to said railroad, upon lines and levels to be furnished by the city surveyor, to and from such point as shall be selected by such company as its terminus, between the New Canal, Claiborne Canal, and Carrollton Avenue, with the right to establish and maintain at such point necessary depots, shops, yards, warehouses, and other structures convenient and useful for the transaction of its business, and to operate the same by steam or otherwise for the transportation of freight and passengers within the city limits.

SEC. 2. Be it further ordained that the said New Orleans Pacific Railway Company or its assigns be and they...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP