Cleveland St Ry Co v. United States

Decision Date03 January 1928
Docket NumberNo. 95,95
Citation275 U.S. 404,48 S.Ct. 189,72 L.Ed. 338
PartiesCLEVELAND, C., C. & ST. L. RY. CO. v. UNITED STATES et al
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. George B. Gillispie, of Springfield, Ill., Samuel W. Baxter, of East St. Louis, Ill., and Harry N. Quigley, of Cincinnati, Ohio, for appellant.

Messrs. Blackburn Esterline and James M. Sheean, both of Chicago, Ill., for the United States.

Mr. Patrick J. Farrell, of Washington, D. C., for Interstate Commerce Commission.

Mr. Justice BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Paragraph 9 of § 1 of the Interstate Commerce Act as amended provides that 'any common carrier subject to the provisions of this act, upon application of * * * any shipper tendering interstate traffic for transportation, shall construct, maintain, and operate upon reasonable terms a switch connection with any * * * private side track which may be constructed to connect with its railroad, where such connection is reasonably practicable and can be put in with safety and will furnish sufficient business to justify the construction and maintenance of the same'; and it authorizes the Interstate Commerce Commission upon complaint and hearing to enforce performance of that duty. Act of June 29, 1906, c. 3591, § 1, 34 Stat. 584, 585; Act of June 18, 1910, c. 309, § 7, 36 Stat. 539, 547; Act of Feb. 28, 1920, c. 91, § 401, 41 Stat. 456, 475 (49 USCA § 1; Comp. St. § 8563).

J. K. Dering Coal Company, which owns a large mine located on the Illinois Central Railroad, desired a direct connection also with the railroad commonly known as the Big Four. To this end, it built a private track, about three and a half miles long, from its mine to the right of way of the Big Four. Thereafter it applied to the Interstate Commerce Commission, under paragraph 9 of section 1, for an order requiring the Big Four to construct, maintain, and operate the desired switch connection. The mine, its track, and the proposed connection are wholly within the state of Illinois. Upon full hearing, the Commission found the facts which, under that paragraph, must exist before a shipper can require the railroad to construct a connection. That is, it found that the coal company had built its track up to the right of way of the railroad; that it had made application in writing for the connection; that it had tendered interstate traffic; that the business was sufficient to justify the construction and maintenance of the proposed connection; that the connection is reasonably practicable and can be put in with safety; and that the connection should be constructed and maintained by the railroad. Thereupon the Commission entered the order prayed for. J. K. Dering Coal Co. v. Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Ry. Co., 96 Interst. Com. Com'n R. 143; Id., 109 Interst. Com. Com'n R. 55.

The Big Four brought this suit against the United States and the coal company in the federal court for Northern Illinois to set aside that order. The Commission intervened as defendant.1 The case was heard before three judges upon motion for an interlocutory injunction, which was denied. Later, upon final hearing, a decree was entered dismissing the bill. That decree is here on appeal, under Urgent Deficiencies Act, October 22, 1913, c. 32, 38 Stat. 208, 220 (28 USCA 47), and section 238 of the Judicial Code as amended by Act of February 13, 1925, c. 229, 43 Stat. 936, 938 (18 USCA § 345).

The District Court did not make findings of facts, render an opinion, or indicate by recital in the decree the grounds of its decision. The abridged record occupies 492 printed pages, besides numerous exhibits. There are 21 assignments of error. And the appellant's briefs fill more than 200 pages. No irregularity in the proceedings before the Commission is suggested. It is urged that some essential findings of fact made by the Commission are without support; but the evidence is clearly ample. The claim of invalidity is rested mainly upon contentions of an entirely different nature. These are numerous; and all are groundless. But, because they are peculiar in character and novel, they must be stated in detail.

First. It is contended that the power of the Commission, under paragraph 9, to require the construction of a switch connection with a side track built by a shipper and located wholly within one state, was abrogated by paragraph 22, which was added to section 1 of the Interstate Commerce Act by Transportation Act 1920. Act of February 28, 1920, c. 91, § 402, 41 Stat. 456, 478. Paragraph 22 declares:

'The authority of the Commission conferred by paragraphs (18) to (21), both inclusive, shall not extend to the construction or abandonment of spur, industrial, team, switching, or side tracks, located or to be located wholly within one state. * * *'

Paragraph 22 in no way affects the power conferred by paragraph 9. By its terms, it operates as a limitation only upon the authority conferred upon the Commission in 1920 by paragraphs 18 to 21. These paragraphs relate to the construction, acquisition, extension, and abandonment of a railroad. They deal primarily with rights sought to be exercised by the carrier. Compare Railroad Commission v. Southern Pacific Co., 264 U. S. 331, 345, 44 S. Ct. 376, 68 L. Ed. 713; Texas & P. R. Co. v. Gulf, C. & S. F. R. Co., 270 U. S. 266, 46 S. Ct. 263, 70 L. Ed. 578; Alabama & V. R. Co. v. Jackson & E. R. Co., 271 U. S. 244, 249, 46 S. Ct. 535, 70 L. Ed. 928. In denying their application to side tracks or spurs, paragraph 22 refers to tracks built by the carrier as a part of its railroad. Compare Swift & Co. v. Hocking Valley R. Co., 243 U. S. 281, 285, 290, 37 S. Ct. 287, 61 L. Ed. 722. Paragraph 9, on the other hand, relates to switch connections with private sidings built by the shipper. The power to compel such had been granted to the Commission by the Act of June 29, 1906, c. 3591, § 1, 34 Stat. 584, 585. Futhermore, Congress gave explicit proof that, in adding paragraph 22 to section 1, it meant to leave paragraph 9 unaffected. For Transportation Act 1920 provided specifically that the paragraph concerning switch connections, which as it then stood was unnumbered, should (without change) be numbered 9. Act of February 28, 1920, c. 91, § 401, 41 Stat. 456. 475.

Second. It is contended that if the authority given the Commission by paragraph 9 was not abrogated by the en- actment of paragraph 22, its exercise in the present case was subject to the requirements of paragraphs 18 to 21, and that the Commission's order is void for noncompliance therewith. The contention has two phases. In the first place, it is said that if the switch connection is made, the side track, by enabling the Big Four to reach into territory hitherto served wholly by another carrier, will become an extension of its lines within the meaning of paragraph 18. Compare Texas & P. R. Co. v. Gulf, C. & S. F. R. Co., 270 U. S. 266, 46 S. Ct. 263, 70 L. Ed. 578; Marion & Eastern R. R. Co. v. Missouri Pacific R. R. Co., 318 Ill. 436, 149 N. E. 492; certiorari denied 271 U. S. 661, 46 S. Ct. 473, 70 L. Ed. 1137. This argument proceeds from the same misconception of the purpose of paragraphs 18 to 21 as does the argument discussed above. These paragraphs deal with construction and abandonment on the part of the carrier, not with side tracks built by the shipper. Furthermore, the order gave the Big Four no trackage rights over the coal company's track. The mere fact that a side track with which a connection is sought extends to an industry located on another railroad does not make the switch connection or the track of the shipper, or both combined, an extension of the railroad within the meaning of paragraphs 18 to 21.

The Big Four appears to place greater reliance on the other phase of the contention. The coal company's track crosses at grade, in addition to three highways, the tracks of the Illinois Central and the Southern Illinois. There is an agreement between these carriers and the coal company under which, by means of appropriate switch connections which it is physically possible to make, trains from these other lines could pass over the track, and thus, as it contended, tap territory now tributary to the Big Four. The argument is that, because of the possibilities of the use of the track by these other carriers, it is an extension within the meaning of paragraph 18. Texas & P. R. Co. v. Gulf, C. & S. F. R. Co. supra. But no such connection has been made or attempted or threatened; and neither the Illinois Commerce Commission nor the Interstate Commerce Commission has authorized such connection or use. If the track is used by the Illinois Central or the Southern Illinois in the manner described, paragraph 20 of section 1 furnishes the appellant with an appropriate remedy. Texas & P. R. Co. v. Gulf, C. & S. F. R. Co., supra.

Third. It is contended that, regardless of the fact that the order of the Commission provides only for a switch connection with the siding of the coal company, the siding must be regarded as an extension within the meaning of paragraphs 18 to 21, because, under the law of Illinois, all tracks which cross highways are deemed public tracks, and this track crosses highways. It is true that, under section 45 of the Public Utilities Act of the state (Cahill's Illinois Revised Statutes 1925, c. 111a, par. 60), a switch track, though built by an industry and used in connection with it, is a part of the railroad subject to public use. Public Utilities Commission v. Smith, 298 Ill. 151, 131 N. E. 371; St. Louis, Springfield & Peoria R. R. v. Commerce Commission, 309 Ill. 621, 141 N. E. 405. But obviously a state cannot, in respect to the regulation of interstate commerce, override the will of Congress. Napier v. Atlantic Coast Line, 272 U. S. 605, 47 S. Ct. 207, 71 L. Ed. 432. The Commission was given the authority to compel an interstate carrier to construct a switch connection with a side track built by an industry. The...

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