Charles Cotting v. Godard 14, 15 1899

Decision Date26 March 1900
Docket NumberNo. 1,1
PartiesCHARLES U. COTTING and Francis Lee Higginson, Appts. , v. A. A. GODARD, as Attorney General of the State of Kansas Kansas City Stock-Yards Company, et al. Argued November 14, 15, 1899. Ordered for reargument
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

In March, 1897, Charles U. Cotting, a citizen of the state of Massachusetts, filed in the circuit court of the United States for the district of Kansas a bill of complaint against the Kansas City Stock-Yards Company, a corporation of the state of Kansas, and certain officers of that company, and Louis C. Boyle, attorney general of the state of Kansas. A few days later Francis Lee Higginson, a citizen of the state of Massachusetts, filed a bill of complaint in the same court and against the same parties.

These suits were subsequently ordered by the court to be consolidated, and were thereafter proceeded in as one.

The plaintiffs respectively alleged that they were stockholders of the Kansas City Stock-Yards Company, and that the suits were brought in their own behalf and that of other stockholders having a like interest, who might thereafter join in the prosecution thereof. The main purpose of the suits was to have declared invalid a certain act of the legislature of the state of Kansas approved March 3, 1897, entitled 'An Act Defining What shall Constitute Public Stock Yards, Defining the Duties of the Person or Persons Operating the Same, and Regulating All Charges thereof, and Removing Restrictions in the Trade of Dead Animals, and Providing Penalties for Violations of This Act.'

A temporary restraining order was granted, and subsequently a motion for a preliminary injunction was made. Pending that motion the court appointed a special master, with power to take testimony and report the same, with his findings, as to all matters and things in issue upon the hearing of the preliminary injunction prayed for. 79 Fed. 679. On August 24, 1897, the special master filed his report. On October 4, 1897, the motion for a preliminary injunction was heard on affidavits, the master's report, exceptions thereto on behalf of both parties, and arguments of counsel. The motion was refused and the restraining order, which had remained in force in the meantime, was set aside. 82 Fed. 839.

A stipulation was thereupon entered into that the defendants should forthwith file their answers to the bills; that replications thereto should be immediately filed; and that the cases thus put at issue should be heard on final hearing, upon the pleadings, proofs, master's report, and exhibits, without further testimony from either party.

On October 28, 1897, after argument, the court dismissed the bills of complaint. 82 Fed. 850. In the opinion of Circuit Judge Thayer there was the following order, which was also embodied in the final decree:

'The great importance of the questions involved in these cases will doubtless occasion an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, where they will be finally settled ans determined. If, on such appeal, the Kansas statute complained of should be adjudged invalid for any reason, and in the meantime the statutory schedule of rates should be enforced, the stock-yards company would sustain a great and irreparable loss. Under such circumstances, as was said in substance by the Supreme Court in Hovey v. McDonald, 109 U. S. 161, 27 L. ed. 891, 3 Sup. Ct. Rep. 136, it is the right and duty of the trial court to maintain, if possible, the status quo pending an appeal, if the questions at issue are involved in doubt, and equity rule 93 was enacted in recognition of that right. The court is of opinion that the cases at bar are of such moment and the questions at issue so balanced with doubt as to justify and require an exercise of the power in question. Therefore, although the bills will be dismissed, yet an order will at the same time be entered restoring and continuing in force the injunction which was heretofore granted for the term of ten days, and if in the meantime an appeal shall be taken such injunction will be continued in force until the appeal is heard and determined in the Supreme Court of the United States; provided that, in addition to the ordinary appeal bond, the Kansas City Stock-Yards Company shall make and file in this court its bond in the penal sum of $200,000, payable to the clerk of this court and his successors in office, for the benefit of whom it may concern, conditioned that in the event the decree dismissing the bills is affirmed it will, on demand, pay to the party or parties entitled thereto all overcharges for yarding and feeding live stock at its stock yards in Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, which it may have enacted in violation of §§ 4 and 5 of the Kansas statute relative to stock yards, approved March 3, 1897, since an injunction was first awarded herein, to wit, on April ___ 1897; and that it will in like manner pay such overcharges, if any, as it may continue to exact in violation of said statute during the pendency of the appeal; said obligation to become void if the statute in question shall be pronounced invalid by the Supreme Court.' 82 Fed. 857.

On November 4, 1897, an appeal was duly taken and allowed to this court.

Subsequently, Louis C. Boyle's term of office as attorney general having expired, his successor, A. A. Godard, was substituted as a party defendant.

The act of the legislature of the state of Kansas is in the following terms:

'Sec. 1. Any stock yards within this state, into which live stock is received for the purpose of exposing or having the same exposed for sale or feeding, and doing business for a compensation, and which for the preceding twelve months shall have had an average daily receipt of not less than 100 head of cattle, or 300 head of hogs, or 300 head of sheep, are hereby declared to be public stock-yards.

'Sec. 2. Any person, company, or corporation owning or operating any public stock-yard or stock-yards in this state is hereby declared to be a public stock-yards operator, whether living or being within this state or not.

'Sec. 3. Every such public stock-yards operator or operators shall annually, on the 31st day of December of each year, file with the secretary of state an itemized statement certified and sworn to, setting forth the number of head of cattle, calves, sheep, hogs, horses, and mules received in his or their public stock-yards during the year next preceding.

'Sec. 4. It shall be unlawful for the owners, proprietors, or the employees of the owners or proprietors of any such public stock-yards within this state to charge for driving, yarding, watering, and weighing of stock, greater prices than the following: For driving, yarding, watering, and weighing of cattle, 15 cents per head; calves, 8 cents per head; hogs, 6 cents per head; sheep, 4 cents per head; and there shall be but one yardage charged.

'Sec. 5. It shall be unlawful for the owner, owners, or proprietors, or their employees, of any such stock yards within this state, to sell and deliver at the rate of less than 2,000 pounds for a ton of hay, or any part thereof, the same to be of good quality, or to charge for or to sell the same at more than 100 per cent above the average market price or value of such hay upon the markets of the towns or cities wherein such stock yards are located, upon the day preceding such sale and delivery; and it shall also be unlawful for any such owners or proprietors or employees to sell and deliver less than 70 pounds of corn in the car for a bushel, or less than 56 pounds of shelled corn for a bushel, or to charge for or to sell the same at more than 100 per cent above the average market price or value of such ear corn or shelled corn on the markets of the towns or cities wherein said stock yards are located, on the day next preceding such sale and delivery. All feed not above named shall be sold for no greater per cent of profit than hereinbefore provided.

'Sec. 6. It shall be unlawful for the owners or proprietors of any stock yards to prohibit the owner or owners, or the representatives of any owner or owners, of any dead stock in such yard or yards from selling such dead stock to any person or persons.

'Sec. 7. That any person or persons violating any of the provisions of this act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined for the first offense not more than $100; for the second offense not less than $100 nor more than $200; and for the third offense not less than $200 nor more than $500 and by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months for each offense; and for each subsequent offense he or they shall be fined in any sum not less than $1,000 and by imprisonment in the county jail not less than six months.

'Sec. 8. It is hereby made the duty of the attorney general to prosecute all violations of the provisions of this act.

'Sec. 9. All acts or parts of acts in conflict with this act are hereby repealed.

'Sec. 10. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its publication in the official state paper.' Laws of Kansas 1897, chap. 240, p. 448.

Messrs. A. H. Horton, Wm. D. Guthrie, and B. P. Waggener for appellants.

Messrs. A. A. Godard, B. H. Tracy, David Martin, and L. C. Boyle for appellees.

Mr. Justice Brewer, after making the above statement, delivered the following opinion, and announced the conclusion and judgment of the court:

The learned circuit judge, in deciding the case, appreciated the importance of the questions involved, and, although denying the relief sought by the plaintiffs, exercised his power of continuing the restraining order until such time as these ques- tions could be determined. Twice has this case been argued before us. We have had the benefit of able arguments and elaborate briefs of distinguished counsel. That the questions are difficult of solution no one reading the...

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