Overnite Transportation Company v. United States

Decision Date20 February 1967
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 4171.
Citation266 F. Supp. 88
PartiesOVERNITE TRANSPORTATION COMPANY and National Motor Freight Traffic Association, Inc., Plaintiffs, v. UNITED STATES of America and Interstate Commerce Commission, Defendants, and Toy Manufacturers of U. S. A., Intervening Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Virginia

Bryce Rea, Jr., and Edward W. Hummers, Jr., Washington, D. C. (Rea, Cross, Knebel & Kinnaird, Washington, D. C., on brief), for plaintiffs.

Raymond M. Zimmet, Atty., I. C. C., Washington, D. C., and John D. Schmidtlein, Asst. U. S. Atty., Alexandria, Va. (Robert W. Ginnane, Gen. Counsel, I. C. C., Donald F. Turner, Asst. Atty. Gen., Claude V. Spratley, Jr., U. S. Atty., Howard E. Shapiro, Atty., Dept. of Justice, on brief), for defendants.

John F. Bohman, Gardner, Mass., and James J. Faris, Alexandria, Va., for intervening defendant.

Before BRYAN, Circuit Judge, and LEWIS and BUTZNER, District Judges.

ALBERT V. BRYAN, Circuit Judge:

The Interstate Commerce Commission on April 26, 1966 ordered the Overnite Transportation Company, a common carrier by motor vehicle, and National Motor Freight Traffic Association, Inc., an agency association of such carriers, to cancel a scheduled increase in the classification rating of stuffed animals, dolls and toys, in boxes, in less-than-truckload quantities (LTL). Overnite and National (carriers) now sue under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1336(a), 1398(a) and 2321-2323 to set aside the order.1 The Commission and the United States answered, as did a shipper-intervenor. We deny the prayer and dismiss the action.

The proceeding was begun by the filing of schedules by the carriers with the Commission under § 217(c) of the Interstate Commerce Act, 49 U.S.C. § 317(c), proposing to raise the classification rating of these items from Class 150 to Class 200.2 As this would mean a substantial stepping-up of the freight charges, it was protested by shippers and the matter came on for decision by the Commission pursuant to § 216(g) of the Act, 49 U.S.C. § 316(g), which pertinently provides:

"(g) Whenever there shall be filed with the Commission any schedule stating a new * * * classification for the transportation of * * * property by * * * carriers by motor vehicle, * * * or any rule * * * thereunder, the Commission is authorized and empowered upon complaint of any interested party or upon its own initiative at once * * * to enter upon a hearing concerning the lawfulness of such rate, fare, or charge * * *. At any hearing involving a change in a rate, fare, charge, or classification, or in a rule, regulation, or practice, the burden of proof shall be upon the carrier to show that the proposed changed rate, fare, charge, classification, rule, regulation, or practice is just and reasonable." (Accent added.)

At the hearing the proponent carriers were directed to adduce their evidence first, the protestant-shippers then following with their proof, and the carriers allowed a rebuttal opportunity, each cross-examining as desired. Upon submission and study the Commission reported that the new classification was unlawful, saying:

"We conclude that the respondents carriers have failed to sustain their statutory burden of proof.
"We find that the proposed changed rating has not been shown to be just and reasonable."

"Classification in carrier rate-making practice" was defined in Director General of Railroads v. Viscose Co., 254 U.S. 498, 503, 41 S.Ct. 151, 153, 65 L.Ed. 372 (1921) as "grouping, — the associating in a designated list, commodities, which, because of their inherent quality or value, or of the risks involved in shipment, or because of the manner or volume in which they are shipped or loaded, and the like, may justly and conveniently be given similar rates. * * *"

Conceded by both the carriers and the shippers, a classification evolves from a consideration of many factors in respect to the consignment, e. g., shipping weight per cubic foot, value of the freight, its liability to loss or damage and classification ratings on other comparable commodities. The focus of argument in this case is the weight per cubic foot, commonly known as the density of the commodity. A low density would give support to the higher classification sought by the carriers presently. Its importance is compendiously pointed up in the brief here of the United States and the Commission in this explanation:

"Transportation charges generally are assessed on the basis of the weight of shipment; the rates are stated in terms of so many cents per one hundred pounds, and a shipper naturally must pay more to have a heavy shipment transported than he does for the transportation of a light shipment. However, a carrier is limited in how much freight it can carry by the capacity of its equipment, and in any one piece of equipment it can carry a heavier load of freight having a low cubic displacement that than it can shipments of high cubic displacement. Therefore, in determining the rate relationships of various commodities, that is, in grouping them for the assessment of transportation charges, it is natural that the carrier would rate freight of low density higher than freight of high density, all other things being equal. Feathers should be rated higher than lead, as, indeed they are."

The issue of density was reduced to whether stuffed animals, dolls and toys had an...

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3 cases
  • Middlewest Motor Freight Bureau v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • 6 octobre 1970
    ...of proof. `We find that the proposed changed rating has not been shown to be just and reasonable.\'" Overnite Transportation Co. v. United States, 266 F.Supp. 88, 90 (E.D.Va.1967) (emphasis added). "But where, as here, the carrier has presented impressive evidence to support the proposed ra......
  • Proctor and Gamble Co. v. Byers Transportation Co., Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Missouri
    • 22 février 1973
    ...Commission's decision after the hearing.5 See, Middlewest Motor Freight Bureau v. United States, supra; Overnite Transportation Company v. United States, 266 F.Supp. 88 (E.D.Va. 1967). HISTORY OF THE The facts of this case are relatively undisputed, and from all the evidence appear as follo......
  • Maness v. Swenson
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Missouri
    • 9 mars 1967
    ... ... No. 67 C 71(2) ... United States District Court E. D. Missouri, E. D ... March 9, ... ...

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