Skinner Eddy Corporation v. United States, No. 215

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBRANDEIS
Citation249 U.S. 557,39 S.Ct. 375,63 L.Ed. 772
PartiesSKINNER & EDDY CORPORATION v. UNITED STATES et al
Decision Date05 May 1919
Docket NumberNo. 215

249 U.S. 557
39 S.Ct. 375
63 L.Ed. 772
SKINNER & EDDY CORPORATION

v.

UNITED STATES et al.

No. 215.
Argued March 11, 1919.
Decided May 5, 1919.

Page 558

Mr. Joseph N. Teal, of Portland, Or., for appellant.

Mr. Assistant Attorney General Frierson, for the United States.

Mr. Albert L. Hopkins, of Washington, D. C., for appellee Interstate Commerce Commission.

Mr. John F. Finerty, of St. Paul, Minn., for appellee Railroad Companies.

Mr. Justice BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.

The last paragraph of section 4 of the Act to Regulate Commerce (Act Feb. 4, 1887, c. 104, 24 Stat. 380), as amended by Act June 18, 1910, c. 309, § 8, 36 Stat. 539, 547 (Comp. St. § 8566), declares that:

'Whenever a carrier by railroad shall in competition with a water route or routes reduce the rates on the carriage of any species of freight to or from competitive points, it shall not be permitted to increase such rates unless after hearing by the Interstate Commerce Commission, it shall be found that such proposed increase rests upon changed conditions other than the elimination of water competition.'

On August 21, 1916, Skinner and Eddy Corporation brought this suit in the District Court of the United States for the District of Oregon to enjoin an increase in carload rates on iron and steel products from Pittsburgh to Seattle. The United States, the commission, and sixteen railroads were joined as defendants. The bill charged that the action of the carriers in increasing

Page 559

their rates and that of the commission in authorizing such increase violated the above provision of the Commerce Act and, being beyond their respective powers, was void. The relief asked against the carriers was to prevent the collection of the proposed increased rates until the 'commission shall have held a hearing to determine whether the proposed increases rest upon changed conditions other than the elimination of water competition.' The relief asked against the commission was to prevent its taking any steps to enforce certain orders 'so far as the same permit' such increases. An application for an interlocutory injunction heard before three judges on December 29, 1916, was denied; and later the bill and a supplemental bill, filed December 16, 1916, were dismissed on the ground that they do not state any cause of action. The case comes here by direct appeal. The essential facts are these:

After the decision by this court in InterMountain Rate Cases, 234 U. S. 476, 34 Sup. Ct. 986, 58 L. Ed. 1408, and while the Sacramento Case (United States v. Merchants' & Manufacturers' Traffic Association, 242 U. S. 178, 37 Sup. Ct. 24, 61 L. Ed. 233) was pending in the District Court, carriers forming connecting lines between Pittsburgh and Seattle applied to the commission in the same proceeding for further modification of amended fourth section order No. 124, so as to permit a reduction in carload rates or iron and steel products from Pittsburgh to Seattle without making such reduced rates applicable to intermediate points of destination. An order granting leave for a reduction from 80 cents1 to 65 cents per 100 pounds was entered March 1, 1916. Rates on Iron and Steel Articles, 38 Interst. Com. Com'n R. 237. The carriers soon thereafter filed tariffs making that reduction

Page 560

effective April 10, 1916; and on that date, the 65-cent rate became operative.

During March, 1916, two applications had been made to the commission in the same proceeding on behalf of shippers to reopen for further consideration other fourth section applications of carriers concerning westbound transcontinental rates and for modification of orders issued thereon. The petitioners for such modification were the Spokane Merchants' Association and the Railroad Commission of Nevada, which had theretofore taken an active part in the proceedings. Railroad Commission of Nevada v. Southern Pacific Co., 21 Interst. Com. Com'n R. 329; Commodity Rates to Pacific Coast Terminals, 32 Interst. Com. Com'n R. 611. Their prayer was for removal of the existing discrimination in transcontinental freight rates against the intermountain territory and in favor of the Pacific Coast ports. The ground alleged for seeking the modification was that by reason of slides in the Panama Canal and the increased demand for shipping due to the world war, water competition, which had theretofore been held to justify lower rates to the Pacific Coast ports, had in large part disappeared. Thereupon the commission reopened on April 1, 1916, these applications, including that on which was entered the order of March 1, 1916, respecting iron and steel rates from Pittsburgh to Seattle; and a hearing was ordered 'respecting the changed conditions which are alleged in justification of a modification of the commission's orders.'

None of the railroads had requested the reopening of the applications or the hearing; and, when it was held, all opposed further modification of the transcontinental rates. No increased rates were proposed by them; and no specific increased rates were considered by the commission. The petitioners introduced evidence respecting the changed conditions as a basis for modifying the several fourth section orders. On June 5, 1916, the commission

Page 561

filed a report (Reopening Fourth Section Applications, 40 Interst. Com. Com'n R. 35), in which it found that while the Panama Canal had been meanwhile reopened, there was not then 'any effective water competition between the two coasts,' or likely to be any in the near future, and that 'the war and an unparalleled rise in prices for ocean transportation have so changed the situation as to transform a relation of rates which was justified when established to one that is now unjustly discriminatory against intermediate points.' It found also that these conditions were temporary. An order (amended July 13, 1916) was then entered, effective September 1, 1916, rescinding those previously entered on the several applications of carriers, including that of March 1, 1916, authorizing the 65-cent Pittsburgh-Seattle rate; and the carriers were directed to reduce the degree of discrimination then existing in favor of Pacific Coast ports as against intermediate territory.

Upon entry of this order the carriers filed tariffs effective September 1, 1916, raising, among others, the Pittsburgh-Seattle iron and steel rates from 65 cents to 94 cents. Promptly, on August 4, 1916, Skinner & Eddy Corporation protested, requested that the tariffs effective September 1, 1916, raising, had thereon, and alleged that the proposed increase violated, as later set forth in its bill of complaint, the last paragraph of the fourth section. Their request was not then granted. Thereafter, by action of the commission and the carriers, not necessary to detail, the effective date of the tariff fixing the 94-cent rate was postponed to December 30, 1916; and meanwhile these tariffs were, with consent of the commission, canceled upon the understanding that new tariffs fixing a 75-cent rate effective on that day would be filed. When the 75-cent rate was filed, Skinner & Eddy Corporation again protested on the same ground, and made, as theretofore, the same request for a suspension

Page 562

of the tariffs and a hearing; and again the request was not granted.

First. The defendants contend that the District Court did not have jurisdiction of the subject-matter of this suit; because orders entered in a fourth section proceeding cannot be assailed in the courts; at least, not until after a remedy has been sought under sections 13 and 15 of the Act to Regulate Commerce (Comp. St. §§ 8581, 8583). This contention proceeds apparently upon a misapprehension of plaintiff's position. If plaintiff had sought relief against a rate or practice alleged to be unjust because unreasonably high or discriminatory, the remedy must have been sought primarily by proceedings before the commission, Loomis v. Lehigh Valley Railroad Co., 240 U. S. 43, 50, 36 Sup. Ct. 228, 60 L. Ed. 517; Texas & Pacific Ry. Co. v. American Tie & Timber Co., 234 U. S. 138, 146, 34 Sup. Ct. 885, 58 L. Ed. 1255; The Minnesota Rate Cases, 230 U. S. 352, 419, 33 Sup. Ct. 729, 57 L. Ed. 1511, 48 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1151, Ann. Cas. 1916A, 18; Robinson v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co., 222 U. S. 506, 32 Sup. Ct. 114, 56 L. Ed. 228; Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co. v. Pitcairn Coal Co., 245 U. S. 481, 30 Sup. Ct. 164, 54 L. Ed. 292; and the finding thereon would have been conclusive, unless there was lack of substantial evidence, some irregularity in the proceedings, or some error in the application of rules of law; Manufacturers' Ry. Co. v. United States, 246 U. S. 457, 482, 38 Sup. Ct. 383, 62 L. Ed. 831; Pennsylvania Co. v. United States, 236 U. S. 351, 361, 35 Sup. Ct. 370, 59 L. Ed. 616; Los Angeles Switching Case, 234 U. S. 294, 311, 34 Sup. Ct. 814, 58 L. Ed. 1319; Kansas City Southern Ry. Co. v. United States, 231 U. S. 423, 440, 34 Sup. Ct. 125, 58 L. Ed. 296, 52 L. R. A. (N. S.) 1; Procter & Gamble Co. v. United States, 225 U. S. 282, 297, 298, 32 Sup. Ct. 761, 56 L. Ed. 1091; Interstate Commerce Commission v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., 222 U. S. 541, 32 Sup. Ct. 108, 56 L. Ed. 308. But plaintiff does not contend that 75 cents is an unreasonably high rate, or that it is discriminatory, or that there was mere error in the action of the commission. The contention is that the commission has exceeded its statutory powers; and that, hence, the order is void. In such a case the courts have...

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  • State of North Carolina v. FEDERAL POWER COM'N, No. C-74-391-W.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • May 7, 1975
    ...to pass on the issue of whether the AEC failed to comply with the statutory mandate of NEPA. See Skinner & Eddy Corp. v. United States, 249 U.S. 557, 39 S.Ct. 375, 63 L.Ed. 772 (1919). Review under 28 U.S.C. § 2342 therefore appears inadequate." Emphasis added 337 F.Supp. 287, In the presen......
  • Writers Guild of America, West, Inc. v. FCC, No. CV 75-3641-F
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • November 4, 1976
    ...20.01, at 56 (1958). See, e. g., Leedom v. Kyne, 358 U.S. 184, 79 S.Ct. 180, 3 L.Ed.2d 210 (1958); Skinner & Eddy Corp. v. United States, 249 U.S. 557, 39 S.Ct. 375, 63 L.Ed. 772 (1919); Dragna v. Landon, 209 F.2d 26 (9th Cir. 1953); Ashland Oil Co. v. Federal Energy Administration, 389 F.S......
  • Demay v. Liberty Foundry Co., No. 30153.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 31, 1931
    ...Makers Co. v. United States, 271 U.S. 268; Chicago, etc., Railroad Co. v. United States, 274 U.S. 29; Skinner, etc., Co. v. United States, 249 U.S. 557; New England Divisions Case, 261 U.S. 184; New York Central Railroad Co. v. White, 243 U.S. 188; St. Louis v. Railroad, 248 Mo. 10; Woodwar......
  • Baldwin v. Scott County Milling Co., No. 35278.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 20, 1938
    ...in this regard 122 S.W.2d 894 is stated by the Supreme Court of the United States in Skinner & Eddy Corporation v. United States et al., 249 U.S. 557, 562, as "If plaintiff had sought relief against a rate or practice alleged to be unjust because unreasonably high or discriminatory, the rem......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
150 cases
  • State of North Carolina v. FEDERAL POWER COM'N, No. C-74-391-W.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Middle District of North Carolina
    • May 7, 1975
    ...to pass on the issue of whether the AEC failed to comply with the statutory mandate of NEPA. See Skinner & Eddy Corp. v. United States, 249 U.S. 557, 39 S.Ct. 375, 63 L.Ed. 772 (1919). Review under 28 U.S.C. § 2342 therefore appears inadequate." Emphasis added 337 F.Supp. 287, In the presen......
  • Writers Guild of America, West, Inc. v. FCC, No. CV 75-3641-F
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • November 4, 1976
    ...20.01, at 56 (1958). See, e. g., Leedom v. Kyne, 358 U.S. 184, 79 S.Ct. 180, 3 L.Ed.2d 210 (1958); Skinner & Eddy Corp. v. United States, 249 U.S. 557, 39 S.Ct. 375, 63 L.Ed. 772 (1919); Dragna v. Landon, 209 F.2d 26 (9th Cir. 1953); Ashland Oil Co. v. Federal Energy Administration, 389 F.S......
  • Demay v. Liberty Foundry Co., No. 30153.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 31, 1931
    ...Makers Co. v. United States, 271 U.S. 268; Chicago, etc., Railroad Co. v. United States, 274 U.S. 29; Skinner, etc., Co. v. United States, 249 U.S. 557; New England Divisions Case, 261 U.S. 184; New York Central Railroad Co. v. White, 243 U.S. 188; St. Louis v. Railroad, 248 Mo. 10; Woodwar......
  • Baldwin v. Scott County Milling Co., No. 35278.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 20, 1938
    ...in this regard 122 S.W.2d 894 is stated by the Supreme Court of the United States in Skinner & Eddy Corporation v. United States et al., 249 U.S. 557, 562, as "If plaintiff had sought relief against a rate or practice alleged to be unjust because unreasonably high or discriminatory, the rem......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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