Beal v. Missouri Pac Corporation, No. 72

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSTONE
Citation61 S.Ct. 418,312 U.S. 45,85 L.Ed. 577
Decision Date20 January 1941
Docket NumberNo. 72
PartiesBEAL, County Attorney of Douglas County, Neb., et al., v. MISSOURI PAC. R.R. CORPORATION

312 U.S. 45
61 S.Ct. 418
85 L.Ed. 577
BEAL, County Attorney of Douglas County, Neb., et al.,

v.

MISSOURI PAC. R.R. CORPORATION.

No. 72.
Argued Dec. 17, 1940.
Decided Jan. 20, 1941.

Page 46

Messrs. Edwin Vail, of Lincoln, Neb., H. Emerson Kokjer, of Wahoo, Neb., and Walter R. Johnson, of Lincoln, Neb., for petitioner.

Mr. George L. DeLacy, of Omaha, Neb., for respondent.

Mr. Justice STONE, delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question is whether respondent, plaintiff in the district court below, has established a cause of action in equity entitling it to a decree enjoining petitioners, the Attorney General of Nebraska and other state officers from prosecuting respondent's agents and officers in the state courts for criminal violations of the Nebraska Full Train Crew Law, § 74-519, Comp.Stat. of Nebraska, 1929.

The statute makes it unlawful for any railroad in Nebraska to operate any passenger train of more than five cars 'with a crew, consisting of less than one engineer, one fireman, one conductor, one brakeman and one flagman'. Passenger trains of five cars or less are required to be operated with a like crew, except that only 'one brakeman or flagman' is required instead of the one brakeman and one flagman required in the case of trains of more than five cars. By § 74-522, officers or agents of railroads dispatching trains in violation of the statute are guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000 for each offense and

Page 47

the railroad is made liable for any damage caused by violations.

Respondent's bill of complaint invoked the jurisdiction of the district court on grounds of diversity of citizenship. The facts alleged, so far as now material, are as follows. Respondent operates two trains in Nebraska, on which it assigns for the performance of the duties of a brakeman or flagman required by the statute, colored employees who are fully qualified to perform and to perform those duties, but who are designated as 'brakemen-porters' and paid lower wages than are respondent's white 'brakemen'.

On complaint lodged with the State Railway Commission by an officer of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, it was alleged that respondent violated the statute, by employing brakemen-porters to perform the services of brakemen or flagmen. The Commission twice dismissed the complaint, but upon rehearing it ruled that although respondent's brakemen-porters, in addition to the duties of brakemen, when performance of such duties permit, render some services as porters, they competently perform the duties to which they are assigned, namely those of brakemen or flagmen, and that respondent's trains, so far as the public safety is concerned, are adequately manned. The Commission declined to pass upon the question whether their employment in the manner alleged complied with the Full Train Crew Law of the state and ordered that the records in the case be made available to the state attorney general for his use, if so advised, in prosecuting respondent for violation of any criminal statute of the state.

The bill of complaint also alleges that employment of white brakemen for the services now performed by respondent's brakemen-porters will compel it to pay an increase of wages in excess of the jurisdictional amount, and that as each train movement involves an alleged vio-

Page 48

lation of the statute, numerous prosecutions for violations, which petitioners threaten, will result in imposing on respondent the burden of many litigations in the state criminal courts. Such prosecutions, if successful, it is alleged, will result in the imposition of aggregate fines in excess of $1,000,000 a year. The relief prayed is that the threatened prosecutions be declared to be unauthorized by the statute, and that petitioners be enjoined from interfering with the operation of respondent's trains through criminal prosecution or otherwise.

After denial by the district court of petitioners' motion to dismiss the bill of complaint for want of equity, petitioners answered denying among others the allegations that respondent is threatened with multiplicity of criminal suits or that petitioners intended to proceed with prosecutions for violation of the statute, except as specifically stated in the answer....

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247 practice notes
  • Romero v. Weakley, No. 1712-SD
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • May 5, 1955
    ...of sound discretion, which guides the determination of courts of equity'. Beal v. Missouri Pacific R. Co., ante 312 U.S. at page 45, 61 S.Ct. 418, 421, 85 L.Ed. 577 * * *. The history of equity jurisdiction is the history of regard for public consequences in employing the extraordinary reme......
  • NATIONAL ASS'N FOR ADVANCE. OF COLORED PEOPLE v. Patty, Civ. A. No. 2435
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • January 21, 1958
    ...irreparable injury. Spielman Motor Sales Co. v. Dodge, 295 U.S. 89, 95, 55 S.Ct. 678, 79 L.Ed. 1322; Beal v. Missouri Pacific R. Corp., 312 U.S. 45, 49, 61 S.Ct. 418, 85 L.Ed. 577. It is obvious that the present case falls in the latter category. The penalties prescribed by the statutes are......
  • Merced Dredging Co. v. Merced County, No. 378.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • June 29, 1946
    ...Pipeline Co. v. Slattery, 1937, 302 U.S. 300, 311, 58 S.Ct. 199, 204, 82 L.Ed. 276. As was said in Beal v. Missouri Pac. R. Corp., 1941, 312 U.S. 45, 49, 50, 61 S.Ct. 418, 420, 85 L.Ed. "It is a familiar rule that courts of equity do not ordinarily restrain criminal prosecutions. * * * Henc......
  • Verhovec v. City of Trotwood, Case No. 3:14-cv-363
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • June 25, 2015
    ...Cir. 2001); Paskvan v. City of Cleveland Civil Serv. Comm'n., 946 F.2d 1233, 1235 (6th Cir. 1991), citing Beal v. Missouri Pacific R.R., 312 U.S. 45, 51 (1941). The Court must then decide whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Lavado v. Keohane, 992 F.2d 601, 6......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
248 cases
  • Romero v. Weakley, No. 1712-SD
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • May 5, 1955
    ...of sound discretion, which guides the determination of courts of equity'. Beal v. Missouri Pacific R. Co., ante 312 U.S. at page 45, 61 S.Ct. 418, 421, 85 L.Ed. 577 * * *. The history of equity jurisdiction is the history of regard for public consequences in employing the extraordinary reme......
  • NATIONAL ASS'N FOR ADVANCE. OF COLORED PEOPLE v. Patty, Civ. A. No. 2435
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • January 21, 1958
    ...irreparable injury. Spielman Motor Sales Co. v. Dodge, 295 U.S. 89, 95, 55 S.Ct. 678, 79 L.Ed. 1322; Beal v. Missouri Pacific R. Corp., 312 U.S. 45, 49, 61 S.Ct. 418, 85 L.Ed. 577. It is obvious that the present case falls in the latter category. The penalties prescribed by the statutes are......
  • Merced Dredging Co. v. Merced County, No. 378.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • June 29, 1946
    ...Pipeline Co. v. Slattery, 1937, 302 U.S. 300, 311, 58 S.Ct. 199, 204, 82 L.Ed. 276. As was said in Beal v. Missouri Pac. R. Corp., 1941, 312 U.S. 45, 49, 50, 61 S.Ct. 418, 420, 85 L.Ed. "It is a familiar rule that courts of equity do not ordinarily restrain criminal prosecutions. * * * Henc......
  • Verhovec v. City of Trotwood, Case No. 3:14-cv-363
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • June 25, 2015
    ...Cir. 2001); Paskvan v. City of Cleveland Civil Serv. Comm'n., 946 F.2d 1233, 1235 (6th Cir. 1991), citing Beal v. Missouri Pacific R.R., 312 U.S. 45, 51 (1941). The Court must then decide whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Lavado v. Keohane, 992 F.2d 601, 6......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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