Lehigh Valley R. Co. v. Clark, 1,708.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Citation207 F. 717
Docket Number1,708.
PartiesLEHIGH VALLEY R. CO. et al. v. CLARK et al.
Decision Date25 August 1913

Edgar H. Boles, of New York City, and James F. Campbell, Abraham M Beitler, John G. Johnson, and H. S. Drinker, Jr., all of Philadelphia, Pa., for plaintiffs in error.

Wm Barclay Lex and Vivian Frank Gable, both of Philadelphia Pa., and Frank Van Sant and Arthur R. Thompson, both of Washington, D.C., for defendants in error.

Before GRAY, BUFFINGTON, and McPHERSON, Circuit Judges.

GRAY Circuit Judge.

In the court below, suit was brought by the defendants in error (hereinafter called the plaintiffs) against the plaintiffs in error (hereinafter called the defendant companies) under authority of the Act of Congress of February 4, 1887, amended by the Acts of March 2, 1889, and of June 29, 1906 (see 24 Stat.c. 104, 25 Stat.c. 382, and 34 Stat.c. 3591), to recover damages from the defendant companies, alleged to have been awarded by way of reparation to the plaintiffs, in certain proceedings had before the Interstate Commerce Commission.

As authorized by section 13 of said Act, the plaintiffs, on April 4, 1908, applied by petition to the said Commission complaining that defendant companies, during certain named years, had exacted and collected from the plaintiffs the rate of $2.00 per gross ton for the transportation of pyrites cinder, by rail from Buffalo, New York, to points of destination in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The plaintiffs, as petitioners as aforesaid, attacked the rate of $2.00 per gross ton on pyrites cinder, as excessive, unjust, unreasonable, and unduly discriminatory, and therefore in violation of the said Act and the Acts amendatory thereof, and prayed that the defendant companies be ordered to desist from exacting and collecting such unreasonable rate; that a lower rate be put in effect, and that reparation be granted to the petitioners. The defendant companies, having been served with a copy of said complaint, made answer thereto; issue was joined, and the cause regularly heard and argued by the parties. Thereafter, January 5, 1909, as alleged in the petition of plaintiffs in the court below, the Interstate Commerce Commission made a finding and report, which was duly filed, ordering the said $2.00 rate on pyrites cinder to be reduced to a rate not exceeding $1.45 per gross ton for the carriage thereinbefore named, but refused to award reparation to the plaintiffs; a certified copy of which finding, with the order of the Commission, is attached and made part of the petition and statement of claim of the plaintiffs. It is then alleged by plaintiffs that the defendant companies duly complied with this order of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and on or before February 25, 1909, established, and put in effect, and now have in effect, the aforesaid reduced transportation rate. It is further alleged that on May 9, 1909, the plaintiffs duly filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission a motion for a rehearing on the question of reparation alone, which motion was granted, and notice of the granting of the same given to all parties, who appeared at the taking of additional testimony by the plaintiffs; that after hearing and argument, the Interstate Commerce Commission, on June 2, 1910, made a finding and ordered the defendant companies to make reparation to the petitioners, specifying the amount to be refunded in each case, a certified copy of the report, conclusions, and order of the Commission on the rehearing being attached as an exhibit to the petition and statement of plaintiffs in the court below. The plaintiffs aver that a true copy of the aforesaid order of the Commission, dated June 2, 1910, was duly served upon the defendant companies, and demand made that they should pay to the petitioners the sum claimed in their petition and set forth in the aforesaid order of the Commission, but that said defendant companies have wholly failed, neglected, and refused to pay the same, etc.

Upon the facts thus alleged, the plaintiffs aver in their petition and statement of claim in the court below, that they are lawfully and legally entitled to receive and recover from the said defendant companies the several amounts of money set forth, as and for damages and reparation, in accordance with the said order of the Interstate Commerce Commission, dated June 2, 1910.

Section 14 of the original Interstate Commerce Act Provided that in an investigation made by the Commission, it shall be its duty to make a report in writing, which shall include the findings of fact upon which the conclusions of the Commission are based, together with its recommendation as to what reparation, if any, should be made to the parties found to have been injured, 'and such findings so made shall thereafter, in all judicial proceedings, be deemed prima facie evidence as to each and every fact found. ' Section 16 provided for the refusal or neglect 'to obey * * * any lawful order or requirement of the Commission,' by authorizing the Commission and the party interested in such order or requirement, to apply in a summary way to a Circuit Court of the United States sitting in equity, and empowering such court, as a court of equity, to hear and determine the matter, on notice to the common carrier complained of, 'in such manner as to do justice in the premises,' with full power to conduct all such inquiries as the court may think needful to enable it to form a just judgment in the matter, 'and on such hearing * * * the report of said Commission shall be prima facie evidence of the matters therein stated. ' And it is provided that, if it be made to appear to the court 'that the lawful order or requirement of said Commission, drawn in question, has been violated or disobeyed,' the court may issue a 'writ of injunction or other proper process, mandatory or otherwise,' to restrain the common carrier from further violation or disobedience of the order or requirement of the Commission, and enjoining obedience to the same, with power to issue writs of attachment or other process incident or applicable to writs of injunction or other proper process, mandatory or otherwise, against such common carrier.

It seems clear from these sections of the Act of 1887, as they originally stood, that Congress had not contemplated a distinction between reparation cases and other cases in which the order of the Commission was not complied with. Circuit Courts were vested with jurisdiction to entertain the complaint of a person interested, that an order had not been complied with, and to hear and determine the matter as courts of equity, giving the redress peculiarly appropriate to equitable jurisdiction, and for that purpose, all the findings of fact by the Commission, as well as all the evidence taken before the Commission, as set forth in the record, were before the court. As all the proceedings for the enforcement of the legal orders of the Commission were solely in equity, a difficulty was soon recognized in reparation cases. It is one thing to enforce by injunction or mandatory process the lawful ministerial order of the Commission, as to things to be done or not to be done in futuro by defendant carriers in the conduct of their business, and quite another thing to enforce an order for the payment of damages by such carriers for a past violation of law. The claim for such damages, as said by the Commission in Heck & Petree v. Railroad Co., 1 Interst.Com.Com'n R. 775, 'presents a case at common law in which the defendants are entitled to a jury trial,' under the seventh amendment to the Constitution. As the statute provided for no trial by jury in the suits to enforce such awards, the Commission repeatedly held that it could make no award of damages in such case, for the reason that the defendants were entitled to have the amount assessed by a jury.

This state of things undoubtedly brought about the amendment to section 16 of the original Act, by the Act of March 2, 1889. By this amendment, Congress recognized the propriety of the suggestion made by the Commission, and added to section 16 of the original Act, the following:

'If the matters involved in any such order or requirement of said Commission are founded upon a controversy requiring a trial by jury, as provided by the seventh amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and any such common carrier shall violate or refuse or neglect to obey or perform the same, after notice, * * * it shall be lawful for any company or person interested in such order or requirement to apply in a summary way by petition to the Circuit Court of the United Statutes sitting as a court of law * * * alleging such violation or disobedience as the case may be; and said court shall by its order then fix a time and place for the trial of said cause. * * * And it shall be the duty of the marshal of the district * * * to forthwith serve a copy of said petition, and of said order, upon each of the defendants, and it shall be the duty of the defendants to file their answers to said petition within ten days. * * * At the trial (of) the findings of fact of said Commission as set forth in its report shall be prima facie evidence of the matters therein stated.'

This amendment, made to preserve the constitutionality of reparation proceedings, left the jurisdiction, in cases not involving reparation, to the Circuit Courts sitting as courts of equity, as originally provided. These cases arise either on a petition by the Commission or party interested, to enforce its order, or on an application for injunction by the party defendant, to restrain its enforcement. In either case, the entire record is before the court, and it can examine all the evidence before the Commission, or evidence in addition...

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