Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co. v. Williamson, No. 1973.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 10th Circuit. Western District of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtBRATTON and MURRAH, Circuit , and VAUGHT
Citation36 F. Supp. 607
PartiesMISSOURI-KANSAS-TEXAS R. CO. v. WILLIAMSON, Attorney General of Oklahoma.
Decision Date11 January 1941
Docket NumberNo. 1973.

36 F. Supp. 607

MISSOURI-KANSAS-TEXAS R. CO.
v.
WILLIAMSON, Attorney General of Oklahoma.

No. 1973.

District Court, W. D. Oklahoma.

January 11, 1941.


36 F. Supp. 608
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36 F. Supp. 609
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M. D. Green and Frank G. Anderson, both of Oklahoma City, Okl. (Rainey, Flynn, Green & Anderson, Cruce, Satterfield & Grigsby, and Bleakmore, Barry, Farmer & Lee, all of Oklahoma City, Okl., O. E. Swan, of Muskogee, Okl., and Thomas B. Pryor, W. L. Curtis, and Joseph R. Brown, all of Fort Smith, Ark., of counsel), for plaintiff

Mac Q. Williamson, Atty. Gen. of Oklahoma, F. M. Dudley, Asst. Atty. Gen., and J. A. Rinehart, Sp. Counsel, of El Reno, Okl., for defendant.

Before BRATTON and MURRAH, Circuit Judges, and VAUGHT, District Judge.

BRATTON, Circuit Judge.

The validity of article 2, chapter 63, Laws of Oklahoma 1937, 66 Okl.St.Ann. §§ 102, 103, is challenged on the ground that it violates the Commerce Clause, art. 1, § 8, cl. 3, and the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and infringes certain acts of Congress relating to interstate commerce. The statute is entitled, "An Act to promote the safety of employees and travelers upon railroads by compelling common carriers by railroad to limit the length of freight trains; and providing a penalty for the violation of this Act." Section 1 forbids the operation of a freight train within the state consisting of more than seventy cars, exclusive of caboose; and, with an exception not material here, section 2 provides that each train operated in violation of the act shall constitute a separate offense, fixes a penalty of not less than $100 nor more than $500, and makes it the duty of the Attorney General to prosecute violations. The attack comes in this suit by Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad Company against Mac Q. Williamson, Attorney General of Oklahoma, to enjoin the taking of any action to enforce or attempt to enforce the statute, or from instituting against plaintiff any criminal or civil action or proceeding for failure or refusal to observe, obey or comply with its provisions. A restraining order was issued; defendant answered, admitting certain allegations contained in the complaint and denying others, pleading the validity of the act, and alleging that the suit is one against the state, in violation of the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and after certain postponements by agreement of the parties, the cause was submitted to this court, specially convened in accordance with section 266 of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C.A. § 380, on the question whether a temporary injunction shall be granted. The evidence adduced at the hearing — consisting of affidavits, and data to which reference is made in certain of such affidavits — fills almost nine hundred pages of printed record, and the questions presented have been ably and exhaustively briefed.

The questions to which our attention is first directed relate to the jurisdiction of the court. Plaintiff is a corporation organized under the laws of Missouri, and defendant is a resident and citizen of Oklahoma. In order to comply with the provisions of the statute, plaintiff would require four additional engines on its main line, two additional engines on other lines, six additional cabooses, and more train crews. The immediate increased out-of-pocket expense would exceed eighty thousand dollars annually, and it would be still larger with expansion of business. Plaintiff seeks in the suit to be relieved of the necessity of providing such additional equipment and the employment of such additional crews. The right asserted is to be relieved of the requirement to do so. That is the very essence of the action. And the value of that right may be measured by the loss which would be entailed by compliance with the act. Western & Atlantic Railroad v. Railroad Commission of Georgia, 261 U.S. 264, 43 S.Ct. 252, 67 L. Ed. 645; McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corporation, 298 U.S. 178, 56 S. Ct. 780, 80 L.Ed. 1135. There is complete diversity of citizenship, and the amount in controversy far exceeds $3000.

Of course, a suit in equity will not lie where the plaintiff has a plain, adequate and complete remedy at law. But the remedy must be complete, practical and efficient. Ordinarily, resort may not be had to equity to restrain the institution and prosecution of criminal proceedings. But it is well settled that a court of equity will restrain the institution and prosecution of

36 F. Supp. 611
such proceedings intended to enforce an unconstitutional enactment where its enforcement in that manner would invade the vested property rights of plaintiff. Davis & Farnum Manufacturing Co. v. Los Angeles, 189 U.S. 207, 217, 23 S.Ct. 498, 47 L.Ed. 778; Dobbins v. Los Angeles, 195 U. S. 223, 241, 25 S.Ct. 18, 49 L.Ed. 169; Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 161, 162, 28 S. Ct. 441, 52 L.Ed. 714, 13 L.R.A.,N.S., 932, 14 Ann.Cas. 764; Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Andrews, 216 U.S. 165, 30 S. Ct. 286, 54 L.Ed. 430; Philadelphia Co. v. Stimson, 223 U.S. 605, 620, 621, 32 S.Ct. 340, 56 L.Ed. 570; Truax v. Raich, 239 U. S. 33, 37, 38, 36 S.Ct. 7, 60 L.Ed. 131, L.R. A.1916D, 545, Ann.Cas.1917B, 283; Adams v. Tanner, 244 U.S. 590, 37 S.Ct. 662, 61 L.Ed. 1336, L.R.A.1917F, 1163, Ann.Cas. 1917D, 973; Terrace v. Thompson, 263 U.S. 197, 214, 44 S.Ct. 15, 68 L.Ed. 255; Packard v. Banton, 264 U.S. 140, 44 S.Ct. 257, 68 L.Ed. 596. The general rule forbidding the interposition of equity where a plain, adequate and complete remedy at law obtains does not oblige plaintiff to assume the hazard of multiplied criminal prosecutions and penal sanctions aggregating large sums in order finally to secure an adjudication of its rights in courts of law. Terrace v. Thompson, supra; Packard v. Banton, supra; Beal v. Missouri Pacific R. Corporation, 8 Cir., 108 F.2d 897

The Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides that the judicial power of the United States shall not extend to any suit at law or in equity against a sovereign state by a citizen of another state. That immunity is without condition or limitation and places a state beyond the reach of the process of a United States court. But a suit against a state officer to restrain wrongful action under color of an unconstitutional statute, resulting in injury to the rights and property of plaintiff, is not a suit against the state, within the intent and meaning of the amendment. An officer is not immune in such circumstances from restraint. He may be enjoined, without impingement upon the amendment. Osborn v. Bank of United States, 9 Wheat. 738, 843, 868, 6 L.Ed. 204; Davis v. Gray, 16 Wall. 203, 220, 21 L.Ed. 447; Allen v. Baltimore & Ohio R. R. Co., 114 U.S. 311, 5 S.Ct. 925, 962, 29 L.Ed. 200; Pennoyer v. McConnaughy, 140 U.S. 1, 10, 11 S.Ct. 699, 35 L. Ed. 363; In re Tyler, 149 U.S. 164, 13 S.Ct. 785, 37 L.Ed. 689; Scott v. Donald, 165 U.S. 107, 112, 17 S.Ct. 262, 41 L.Ed. 648; Tindal v. Wesley, 167 U.S. 204, 220, 17 S.Ct. 770, 42 L.Ed. 137; Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466, 518, 519, 18 S.Ct. 418, 42 L. Ed. 819; Ex parte Young, supra; Philadelphia Company v. Stimson, supra; Shields v. Utah Idaho Central Railroad Co., 305 U. S. 177, 59 S.Ct. 160, 83 L.Ed. 111. It is clear that the complaint states a cause of action in equity of which this court has jurisdiction.

It is contended with emphasis that the statute, applied to the business of plaintiff, is not a safety measure reasonably enacted in the exertion of the police power of the state, but is merely an attempt to regulate, delay and burden interstate commerce, in violation of the Commerce Clause. The supreme, plenary and complete power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce is without limitation or restriction, except that prescribed in the Constitution; and within the reach of that paramount authority lies the power to protect such commerce against substantial dangers, burdens or obstructions, no matter the source from which the encroachment springs. Gibbons v. Ogden, 9 Wheat. 1, 6 L.Ed. 23; Minnesota Rate Cases (Simpson v. Shepard), 230 U.S. 352, 398, 33 S.Ct. 729, 57 L.Ed. 1511, 48 L.R.A., N.S., 1151, Ann.Cas.1916A, 18; National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Corp., 301 U.S. 1, 36, 57 S.Ct. 615, 81 L.Ed. 893, 108 A.L.R. 1352. Coming to apply that well recognized doctrine, many state and municipal enactments have been held invalid. Hall v. DeCuir, 95 U.S. 485, 24 L.Ed. 547; Covington & Cincinnati Bridge Co. v. Kentucky, 154 U.S. 204, 14 S.Ct. 1087, 38 L.Ed. 962; Minnesota Rate Cases, supra; Kansas City Southern Railway Co. v. Kaw Valley Drainage District, 233 U.S. 75, 34 S.Ct. 564, 58 L.Ed. 857; South Covington & Cincinnati Street Railway Co. v. City of Covington, 235 U.S. 537, 35 S.Ct. 158, 59 L.Ed. 350, L.R.A. 1915F, 792; Seaboard Air Line Railway v. Blackwell, 244 U.S. 310, 37 S.Ct. 640, 61 L.Ed. 1160, L.R.A.1917F, 1184; Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Co. v. Texas, 245 U.S. 484, 38 S.Ct. 178, 62 L.Ed. 419, L.R.A.1918C, 535.

But every state statute having some relation to interstate commerce is not to be condemned on that ground. A state is free in the exertion of its police power to enact reasonable measures in

36 F. Supp. 612
the interest of the health, safety and welfare of its people, including employees of railroads, passengers on trains, and others, even though interstate commerce may be incidentally or indirectly involved. Sherlock v. Alling, Administrator, 93 U.S. 99, 23 L.Ed. 819; Minnesota Rate Cases, supra; South Covington & Cincinnati Street Railway Co. v. City of Covington, supra. Statutes making it a misdemeanor for an engineer to operate a train within the state without first undergoing an examination and obtaining a license, and providing for the forfeiture of such license, Smith v. Alabama, 124 U.S. 465, 8 S.Ct. 564, 31 L.Ed. 508; declaring that persons afflicted with color blindness...

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2 practice notes
  • State ex rel. Conway v. Southern Pacific Co., Civil 4525
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • 23 décembre 1943
    ...issued prohibiting interference of the railroad in that state. The fourth case is the case of Missouri-K.-T.R. Co. v. Williamson, D.C., 36 F.Supp. 607, known as the Oklahoma case. That case is like the Nevada Train Limit case except that it has reference to freight trains only. This case wa......
  • Pearce v. Freeman, Civ. A. No. 2717.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • 16 février 1965
    ...Indemnity Co. v. People ex rel. McLaughlin, 298 U.S. 155, 56 S.Ct. 685, 80 L.Ed. 1099 (1936); Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co. v. Williamson, 36 F.Supp. 607 (D.C.Okla.1941). But where it is clear that Congress has enactted a statute to regulate a phase of interstate commerce that clearly covers......
2 cases
  • State ex rel. Conway v. Southern Pacific Co., Civil 4525
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • 23 décembre 1943
    ...issued prohibiting interference of the railroad in that state. The fourth case is the case of Missouri-K.-T.R. Co. v. Williamson, D.C., 36 F.Supp. 607, known as the Oklahoma case. That case is like the Nevada Train Limit case except that it has reference to freight trains only. This case wa......
  • Pearce v. Freeman, Civ. A. No. 2717.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • 16 février 1965
    ...Indemnity Co. v. People ex rel. McLaughlin, 298 U.S. 155, 56 S.Ct. 685, 80 L.Ed. 1099 (1936); Missouri-Kansas-Texas R. Co. v. Williamson, 36 F.Supp. 607 (D.C.Okla.1941). But where it is clear that Congress has enactted a statute to regulate a phase of interstate commerce that clearly covers......

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