Missouri Pac Co v. Norwood, 193

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation75 L.Ed. 1010,51 S.Ct. 458,283 U.S. 249
Docket NumberNo. 193,193
PartiesMISSOURI PAC. R. CO. v. NORWOOD, Attorney General of Arkansas, et al. *
Decision Date13 April 1931

Messrs. Edward J. White, of St. Louis, Mo., and Thomas B. Pryor, of Fort Smith, Ark., for appellant.

Messrs. Donald R. Richberg, of Chicago, Ill., and Hal Norwood, of Little Rock, Ark., for appellees.

Mr. Justice BUTLER delivered the opinion of the Court.

The company sued the attorney general and the prosecuting attorneys of two circuits of Arkansas to enjoin the enforcement of statutes of that state regulating freight train crews and switching crews upon the claim that they are repugnant to the Constitution and laws of the United States. On the complaint and supporting affidavits the plaintiff applied for a temporary injunction. Defendants moved to dismiss. The court, consisting of a circuit judge and two district judges, held the complaint insufficient to show any ground for relief and dismissed the case. 42 F.(2d) 765.

The statutes so assailed are Laws 1907, Act No. 116, p. 295 and Laws 1913, Act No. 67, p. 211 (sections 8577-8579 and 8583, 8585, 8586, Crawford & Moses' Digest, 1921) which so far as here material are printed in the margin.1 The earlier act requires railroad carriers whose lines are not less than 50 miles in length to have not less than three brakemen in every crew of freight trains of 25 cars or more. The later act requires not less than three helpers in switch crews in yards in cities of the first and second class operated by companies having lines of 100 miles or more.

The complaint asserts that each of these acts violates the commerce clause of the Federal Constitution (article 1, § 8, cl. 3), and the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment and is repugnant to the Interstate Commerce Act as amended in 19202 and to the Railway Labor Act. 3 But they have been held valid by this court as against the claim of repugnancy to these clauses of the Constitution. See Chicago, R. I. & Pac. Ry. Co. v. Arkansas, 219 U. S. 453, 459, 465, 31 S. Ct. 275, 55 L. Ed. 290, affirming 86 Ark. 412, 111 S. W. 456, as to the Act of 1907, and St. Louis & Iron Mtn. Ry. v. Arkansas, 240 U. S. 518, 36 S. Ct. 443, 60 L. Ed. 776, affirming 114 Ark. 486, 170 S. W. 580, as to the Act of 1913.

The first of these cases was decided in 1911. The court held that the act of 1907 is not a regulation of interstate commerce and that upon its face it must be taken as having been enacted in aid of, and for the protection of those engaged in, such commerce. It said that Congress might have taken entire charge of the subject, but that it had not done so and had not enacted regulations in respect of the number of employees to whom might be committed the management of interstate trains and that until it does the statutes of the state, not in their nature arbitrary, must control. The court found that, while under the evidence there was admittedly room for controversy as to whether the statute was necessary, it could not be said that it was so unreasonable as to justify the court in adjudging it an arbitrary exercise of power. And it held that, being applicable alike to all belonging to the same class, there was no basis for the contention that it denied the company equal protection of the laws. The principles governing that decision were followed in the later case, decided in 1916, which upheld the act of 1913. Both acts were sustained as valid exertions of police power for the promotion of safety of employees and others.

The plaintiff says that, since these decisions, Congress has occupied the field and has delegated to the Commis- sion and Labor Board full authority over the subject and that the state laws under consideration are repugnant to the comprehensive scheme of federal regulation prescribed by the Interstate Commerce Act as amended and conflict with sections 1(10) and (21), 13, 15 and 15a thereof, 49 USCA § 1(10) and (21); §§ 13, 15, 15a, and with the spirit of the Railway Labor Act of 1926.

It maintains that the allegations of the complaint together with the facts set forth in the affidavits show that, when applied to operating conditions on its lines in Arkansas, these state laws are arbitrary and violative of the Federal Constitution and laws. But the affidavits filed in support of the application for a temporary injunction may not be considered in determining whether the complaint states facts sufficient to constitute ground for relief. Leo v. Union Pac. Ry. Co. (C. C.) 17 F. 273; United States v. Marine Engineers' Ben. Ass'n No. 38 (D. C.) 277 F. 830, 834; McGregor v. Great Northern R. Co., 42 N. D. 269, 280, 172 N. W. 841, 4 A. L. R. 1635.

The substance of the pertinent allegations of the complaint follows:

Present railroad operating conditios on plaintiff's railroad in Arkansas and elsewhere, and on railroads generally in this country, differ from those that existed in 1907 and 1913 when these laws were passed. Roads and equipment have been so improved that longer and heavier trains may be operated more safely now than must smaller trains could then be operated. It is standard practice of railroads 'wherever the density of traffic is sufficient, except in the State of Arkansas, to operate freight and passenger trains and switch engines with crews consisting of less than the extra switchman (meaning one less than required by the 1913 Act) and extra brakemen (meaning one less than required by the 1907 Act) provided by the Arkansas laws.'

Freight trains and switch engines are safely operated on lines similar to those of plaintiff 'wherever the traffic and circumstances make such operation advisable, without such extra switchmen and extra brakemen.' By increasing lengths of their freight trains, the plaintiff and other railroads in States 'where such extra brakemen and extra switchmen are not (by law) required' have been able to effect great economies. But by the Arkansas laws plaintiff is compelled there to employ more than the standard crew and to pay for services and time not needed or used for the operation of its freight trains.

The standard agreement between plaintiff and the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen provides for a switch crew consisting of a foreman and two helpers and 'also provides for a * * * freight train crew, in through and irregular freight service, of a conductor and two brakemen.' Other railroads have similar agreements with the Brotherhood 'with the exception of the service in States with laws similar to the above laws of the State of Arkansas.'

And it is alleged that, if plaintiff were permitted to operate its freight trains without the extra brakemen required by the Act of 1907, its expenses would be reduced by $350,000 per year; and, if permitted to operate its switch engines without the extra helper required by the Act of 1913, its expenses would be reduced $250,000 per year.

The complaint contains much by way of argument, assertions as to questions of law together with inferences and conclusions of the pleader as to matters of fact. These are not deemed to be admitted by motion to dismiss. Equitable Life Assurance Society v. Brown, 213 U. S. 25, 43, 29 S. Ct. 404, 53 L. Ed. 682; Southern Ry. Co. v. King, 217 U. S. 524, 536, 30 S. Ct. 594, 54 L. Ed. 868; Pierce Oil Corp. v. Hope, 248 U. S. 498, 500, 39 S. Ct. 172, 63 L. Ed. 381. The state laws are presumed valid. Moreover, in the cases here decided they were held not repugnant to the commerce clause of the Constitution or the due process or equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The burden is on the plaintiff by candid and direct allegations to set forth in its complaint facts sufficient plainly to show the asserted invalidity. Aetna Insurance Co. v. Hyde, 275 U. S. 440, 447, 48 S. Ct. 174, 72 L. Ed. 357, and cases there cited; N. O. Public Service v. New Orleans, 281 U. S. 682, 686, 50 S. Ct. 449, 74 L. Ed. 1115; Beaumont, S. L. & W. Ry. v. United States, 282 U. S. 74, 88, 51 S. Ct. 1, 75 L. Ed. 221.

There is no showing that the dangers against which these laws were intended to safeguard employees and the public no longer exist or have been lessened by the improvements in road and equipment or by the changes in operating conditions there described. And, for aught that appears from the facts that are alleged, the same or greater need may now exist for the specified number of brakemen and helpers in freight train and switching crews. It is not made to appear that the expense of complying with the state laws is now relatively more burdensome than formerly. Greater train loading tends to lessen operating expenses for brakemen. There is no statement as to present efficiency of switching crews compared with that when the 1913 Act was passed, but it reasonably may be inferred that larger cars and heavier loading of today make for a ower switching expense per car or ton. While cost of complying with state laws enacted to promote safety is an element properly to be taken into account in determining whether such laws are arbitrary and repugnant to the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (Lehigh Valley R. R. v. Commissioners, 278 U. S. 24, 34, 49 S. Ct. 69, 73 L. Ed. 161, 62 A. L. R. 805; Oregon R. R. & N. Co. v. Fairchild, 224 U. S. 510, 529, 32 S. Ct. 535, 56 L. Ed. 863), there is nothing alleged in that respect which is sufficient to distinguish this case from those in which we have upheld the laws in question. And the claim that 'standard' crews are generally employed by the railroads of the United States is substantially impaired by the qualified form of the allegations and also by the fact which we judicially notice, that other states have laws somewhat similar to the Arkansas Act in question.4 It is clear that, so far as constitutionality is concerned, the facts alleged are not sufficient to distinguish this case from those in which this court has sustained these laws.

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