Lawrence v. St Francisco Ry Co 20 21, 1927, LOUIS-SAN

Decision Date31 May 1927
Docket NumberLOUIS-SAN,No. 894,894
Citation274 U.S. 588,47 S.Ct. 720,71 L.Ed. 1219
PartiesLAWRENCE et al. v. ST.FRANCISCO RY. CO. Argued April 20-21, 1927
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Mr. C. B. Ames, of Oklahoma City, Okl., for appellants.

Mr. C. B. Stuart, of Oklahoma City, Okl., for appellee.

Mr. Justice BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a direct appeal from a decree for an interlocutory injunction entered by the federal court for Northern Oklahoma. The plaintiff below was the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company; the defendants the Corporation Commission of that state, its Attorney General, and some citizens of Sapulpa. The bill was filed on Jan- uary 11, 1927. The case was heard on January 19, by three judges under section 266 of the Judicial Code, as amended (Comp. St. § 1243), and was decided on the same day. No opinion was delivered.

The Act of February 5, 1917 (Compiled Oklahoma Laws 1921, §§ 3482-3485, 5548), prohibits a railroad from removing its 'shops or division points which have been located at any place in this state for a period of not less than five years without previously securing the permission of the Corporation Commission to make such removal.' Railroad shops and a division point of the St. Louis-San Francisco System, have been located in Sapulpa, Okl., since 1890. The railway indicated a purpose to remove these shops and the division point to Tulsa. On February 19, 1917, the Corporation Commission issued, upon complaint of citizens of Sapulpa and upon notice to and hearing of the railway, a temporary restraining order enjoining the removal. The railway acquiesced in this order, the commission retained jurisdiction of the cause, and neither party took any action therein for nearly 10 years. In December, 1926, while the restraining order issued in 1917 was in force, the railway, without leave of the commission, and without making any application in the cause, directed that the division point for passenger trains be changed in January, 1927, to Tulsa, and it indicated a purpose to remove its shops to West Tulsa. Thereupon the complaining citizens of Sapulpa filed in the cause a motion which, reciting these facts, prayed that the cause be set for hearing and that meanwhile the commission prohibit the railway from making any change. The commission set the hearing for January 17, 1927, and renewed the temporary restraining order.

The railway brought this suit shortly before the day set for the hearing by the commission. The bill charges that the Oklahoma act violates the commerce clause, the due process clause, and the equal protection clause, and that, hence, the commission is without jurisdiction in the premises. The sole prayer is that the defendants be enjoined 'from compelling plaintiff to submit to the jurisdiction of the Corporation Commission in the several matters aforesaid'; that is, the proposed removal from Sapulpa. The decree is broader than the prayer. It enjoins the commission from hearing the cause pending before it, from taking any other action therein, from making or enforcing any order restraining the railway from removing its shops or division point from Sapulpa, and specifically from putting into effect a contemplated passenger train schedule on January 23, 1927; the schedule being intended to facilitate the change of the division point. It enjoins the other defendants from participation in any way in the proceedings before the commission.

The decree disregards the requirement of section 19 of the Act of October 15, 1914, c. 323, 38 Stat. 730, 738 (United States Code of Laws, Title 28, § 383, p. 909; Comp. St. § 1243c):

'That every order of injunction * * * shall set forth the reasons for the issuance of the same, shall be specific in terms. * * *'

It does not declare that the Oklahoma statute is unconstitutional, nor does it state any other reason why the action enjoined is a violation of plaintiff's rights. It does not recite, even in general terms, that there is danger of irreparable loss. It sets forth no fact from which such danger can be inferred. It recites merely that the case was submitted on affidavits and that:

'The court, having considered said affidavits and having heard argument of counsel both for plaintiff and defendants, is of the opinion that the temporary injunction prayed for by plaintiff herein should be in all things granted.'

Although proper practice demands that the provision thus prescribed by Congress be scrupulously observed, disregard of the statutory requirement concerning the form of the order did not render the interlocutory decree void. Druggan v. Anderson, 269 U. S. 36, 40, 46 S. Ct. 14, 70 L. Ed. 151. It must, however, be reversed, because the verified bill and the affidavits fail to supply that evidence of danger of irreparable injury to plaintiff which is essential to justify issuance of a temporary injunction. Indeed, it appears affirmatively from the allegations of the bill and the facts testified to in the affidavits that irreparable injury would not have resulted from the failure to issue a restraining order before serving notice on the defendants, that the interlocutory injunction should have been denied, except possibly as to the adoption of the new passenger train schedule on January 23, 1927, and that otherwise action by the court should have awaited the final hearing.

The only relief prayed for in the bill is that the defendants be enjoined 'from compelling plaintiff to submit to the jurisdiction of the Corporation Commission in the several matters aforesaid.' There is no prayer for general relief. No right or interest of the railway would have been prejudiced by participating in the hearing before the commission and awaiting the result thereof. The railway would not thereby have waived its right to contest in the federal court the validity of the Oklahoma law. Nor would delay in making application to the federal court have subjected it to penalties under the Oklahoma law. The earliest date on which the railway is definitely shown to have proposed to take any action falling within the prohibition of the commission's order was January 23, 1927, when the railway proposed to put into effect the new schedule involving change of the division point for passenger trains from Sapulpa to Tulsa. The hearing before the commission had been set for January 17, 1927. It was clearly possible, and was perhaps probable, that the commission would, after hearing argument on that day, have modified its order, so as to permit the passenger schedule to go into effect. For the matter of serious concern to Sapulpa was the threatened removal of the shops and the freight terminals; not the proposed new schedule for passenger trains. Moreover, if the commission had refused to permit the passenger schedule to go into effect, the railway would still have had ample opportunity before January 23 to secure from the federal court relief in that respect.

The broader permission to remove both the shops and the division point might also have been granted by the commission, if it had been permitted to proceed with the hearing set for January 17. The railway asserts that the removal would result in an improved service and in...

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