Smyth v. Ames Same v. Smith Same v. Higginson, Nos. 49-51

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHARLAN
PartiesSMYTH, Attorney General, et al. v. AMES et al. SAME v. SMITH et al. SAME v. HIGGINSON et al
Decision Date07 March 1898
Docket NumberNos. 49-51

169 U.S. 466
18 S.Ct. 418
42 L.Ed. 819
SMYTH, Attorney General, et al.

v.

AMES et al. SAME v. SMITH et al. SAME v. HIGGINSON et al.

Nos. 49-51.
March 7, 1898.

[Syllabus from pages 466-469 intentionally omitted]

Page 469

The appellees in the first of the above cases were the plaintiffs below, and are citizens of Massachusetts, and stockholders of the Union Pacific Railway Company. They sue on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated. The defendants are the Union Pacific Railway Company; the St. Joseph & Grand Island Railroad Company, the Omaha & Republican Valley Railroad Company, and the Kansas City & Omaha Railroad Company, corporations of Nebaska under the control of the Union Pacific Railway Company; certain persons, citizens of Nebraska, who hold the offices, respectively, of attorney general, secretary of state, auditor of public accounts, state treasurer, and commissioner of public lands and buildings, and constitute the state board of transportation; and James C. Dahlman, Joseph W. Edgerton, and Gilbert L. Laws, citizens of Nebraska, and secretaries of that board. By a supplemental bill in the same suit, certain persons, receivers of the Union Pacific Railway Company, were made defendants.

In the second case, some of the plaintiffs, appellees here, are subjects of Queen Victoria, while the others are citizens of Massachusetts. They are all stockholders of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company, a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa, and have sued in that capacity on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated. The defendants are the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company; the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad Company, a Nebraska corporation, and the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway Company a corporation organized under the laws of Minnesota and Nebraska, both under the control of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company; and the above officers constituting the state board of transportation, as well as those holding the positions of secretaries of that board.

In the third case, the appellees Henry L. Higginson and others, citizens of Massachusetts, were the plaintiffs below. They sued on behalf of themselves and all other stock,—holders

Page 470

of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company, a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Illinois and Iowa, and whose lines west of the Missouri river are known as the Burlington & Missouri Road. The defendants are the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company, the persons composing the Nebraska state board of transportation, and the secretaries of that board.

For the sake of brevity, the Union Pacific Railway Company will be called the 'Union Pacific Company,' the St. Joseph & Grand Island Railroad Company the 'St. Joseph Company,' the Omaha & Republican Valley Railroad Company the 'Omaha Company,' the Kansas City & Omaha Railroad Company the 'Kansas City Company,' the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley Railroad Company the 'Fremont Company,' the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway Company the 'St. Paul Company,' and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company the 'Burlington Company.'

Each of these suits was brought July 28, 1893, and involves the constitutionality of an act of the legislature of Nebraska approved by the governor April 12, 1893, and which took effect August 1, 1893. It was an act 'to regulate railroads, to classify freights, to fix reasonable maximum rates to be charged for the transportation of freights upon each of the railroads in the state of Nebraska, and to provide penalties for the violation of this act.' Acts Neb. 1893, c. 24; Comp. St. Neb. 1893, c. 72, art. 12. The act is referred to in the record as 'House Roll 33.'

Prior to the enactment of that statute, the legislature passed an act to regulate railroads, prevent unjust discrimination, provide for a board of transportation, and define its duties, and repeal articles 5 and 8 of chapter 72, entitled 'Railroads,' of the Revised Statutes of Nebraska, and all acts and parts of acts in conflict therewith,—the same being chapter 60 of the Session Laws of 1887, and now article 8 of chapter 72 of the Compiled Statutes of Nebraska of 1893. By that act the attorney general, secretary of state, auditor of public accounts, state treasurer, and commissioner of public lands

Page 471

and buildings were constituted a board of transportation, with power to appoint three secretaries to assist in the performance of its duties, and with authority to inquire into the management of the business of all common carriers subject to its provisions, and obtain from them the full and complete information necessary to enable the board to perform its duties, and carry out the objects for which it was created. It was also provided that, for the purposes of the act, the board should have power to require the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of all books, papers, contracts, agreements, and documents relating to any matter under investigation, and to that end could invoke the aid of any of the district courts or of the supreme court of the state; and that any court of competent jurisdiction in which such inquiry was carried on could, in case of contumacy or refusal to obey a subpoena issued to any common carrier or person subject to the provisions of the act, issue an order requiring such carrier or other person to appear before the board (and produce books and papers, if ordered), and give evidence touching the matter in question; and any failure to obey the order was punishable by the court as for contempt. The claim that any testimony or evidence might tend to criminate the person giving evidence would not excuse the witness from testifying, but such evidence or testimony could not be used against him on the trial of any criminal proceeding.

The power to enact the statute whose validity is now assailed that is, the above statute of August 1, 1893, regulating railroads, classifying freights, fixing reasonable maximum rates, etc., in Nebraska—was referred by counsel to the general legislative power of the state, as well as to the fourth section of article 11 of the state constitution which provides: 'Railways heretofore constructed, or that may hereafter be constructed in this state, are hereby declared public highways, and shall be free to all persons for the transportation of their persons and property thereon, under such regulations as may be prescribed by law. And the legislature may from time to time pass laws establishing reasonable maximum rates of charges for the transportation of passengers and freight on

Page 472

the different railroads in this state. The liability of railroad corporations as common carriers shall never be limited.'

By the first section of that statute it is declared that, except as therein otherwise provided, its provisions shall apply to all railroad corporations, railroad companies, and common carriers engaged in Nebraska in the transportation of freight by railroad therein, and also to shipments of property made from any point within the state to any other point within its limits. That section provides. 'The term 'railroad,' as used in this act, shall include all bridges and ferries used or operated in connection with any railroad, and also all the road in use by any corporation, receiver, trustee or other person operating a railroad whether owned or operated under contract, agreement, lease or otherwise, and the term 'transportation' shall include all instrumentalities of shipment or carriage, and the term 'railroad corporation' contained in this act shall be deemed and taken to mean all corporations, companies or individuals, now owning or operating, or which may hereafter own or operate, any railroad, in whole or in part, in this state, and the provisions of this act, except as in this act other wise provided, shall apply to all persons, firm and companies, and to all associations of persons, whether incorporated or otherwise that shall do business as common carrier of freight upon any of the lines of railway in this state, the same as to railroad corporations herein mentioned.' Section 1.

The second section provides that all freight or property to be transported by any railroad company or companies mentioned in the first section, 'from any point in the state of Nebraska to any other point in said state, shall be classified as hereinafter in this section provided, and any other or different classification of freight, which would raise the rates on class or commodity of freights above the rates prescribed in this act, except as hereinafter otherwise provided, is prohibited and declared to be unlawful. The classification established by this act shall be known as the 'Nebraska Classification.' Freights shall be billed at the actual weight unless otherwise directed in the classification—twenty thousand pounds shall

Page 473

be a carload, and all excessive weights shall be at the same rate per hundred pounds, except in carloads of light and bulky articles, and unless otherwise specified in the classification. When the classification makes an article 'released' or 'owner's risk,' the same at carrier's risk will be the next highest rate higher, unless otherwise provided in the classification. Articles rated first class, 'released' or owner's risk, if taken at 'carrier's risk,' will be 1 1/2 times first class unless otherwise provided in the classification. All articles carried according to this classification at 'owner's risk' of fire, leakage, damage or breakage must be so receipted for by agents of the railroad, and so considered by owners and shippers. Signing a release contract by a shipper shall not release the railroad company for loss or damages caused by carelessness or negligence of its employees.' Section 2.

Following this section, in the body of the statute, are...

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884 practice notes
  • Ashwander v. Tennessee Valley Authority, Nos. 403
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 17, 1936
    ...been accorded to stockholders of public service corporations with respect to rates alleged to be con- Page 320 fiscatory. Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466, 469, 517, 18 S.Ct. 418, 42 L.Ed. 819; Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 129, 130, 143, 28 S.Ct. 441, 52 L.Ed. 714, 13 L.R.A.(N.S.) 932, 14 Ann.C......
  • NATIONAL ASS'N FOR ADVANCE. OF COLORED PEOPLE v. Patty, Civ. A. No. 2435
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • January 21, 1958
    ...the clauses involved here. Covington & Lexington Turnpike Co. v. Sandford, 164 U.S. 578, 592, 17 S.Ct. 198, 41 L.Ed. 560; Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466, 522, 18 S.Ct. 418, 42 L.Ed. The opinion concludes with the following language: "Having reached the conclusion that the act imposing the tax ......
  • Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Public Service Commission, Civ. No. 1879.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • May 10, 1948
    ...many times and held to be without merit. Reagan v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co., 154 U.S. 362, 14 S.Ct. 1047, 38 L.Ed. 1014; Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466, 18 S.Ct. 418, 42 L.Ed. 819; Prout v. Starr, et al., 188 U.S. 537, 23 S.Ct. 398, 47 L.Ed. 584; McNeill v. Southern Ry. Co., 202 U.S. 543, 26 ......
  • Virginia Office of Prot. and Adv. V. Virginia, No. CIV. 3:03CV026.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • May 16, 2003
    ...441, 52 L.Ed. 714 (1908), created an exception to recognized sovereign immunity protections according to the doctrine of Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466, 518-19, 18 S.Ct. 418, 42 L.Ed. 819 (1898), because, as that doctrine holds, a suit challenging the constitutionality of a state official's ac......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
859 cases
  • Ashwander v. Tennessee Valley Authority, Nos. 403
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 17, 1936
    ...been accorded to stockholders of public service corporations with respect to rates alleged to be con- Page 320 fiscatory. Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466, 469, 517, 18 S.Ct. 418, 42 L.Ed. 819; Ex parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 129, 130, 143, 28 S.Ct. 441, 52 L.Ed. 714, 13 L.R.A.(N.S.) 932, 14 Ann.C......
  • NATIONAL ASS'N FOR ADVANCE. OF COLORED PEOPLE v. Patty, Civ. A. No. 2435
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • January 21, 1958
    ...the clauses involved here. Covington & Lexington Turnpike Co. v. Sandford, 164 U.S. 578, 592, 17 S.Ct. 198, 41 L.Ed. 560; Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466, 522, 18 S.Ct. 418, 42 L.Ed. The opinion concludes with the following language: "Having reached the conclusion that the act imposing the tax ......
  • Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Public Service Commission, Civ. No. 1879.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court of South Carolina
    • May 10, 1948
    ...many times and held to be without merit. Reagan v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co., 154 U.S. 362, 14 S.Ct. 1047, 38 L.Ed. 1014; Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466, 18 S.Ct. 418, 42 L.Ed. 819; Prout v. Starr, et al., 188 U.S. 537, 23 S.Ct. 398, 47 L.Ed. 584; McNeill v. Southern Ry. Co., 202 U.S. 543, 26 ......
  • Virginia Office of Prot. and Adv. V. Virginia, No. CIV. 3:03CV026.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • May 16, 2003
    ...441, 52 L.Ed. 714 (1908), created an exception to recognized sovereign immunity protections according to the doctrine of Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466, 518-19, 18 S.Ct. 418, 42 L.Ed. 819 (1898), because, as that doctrine holds, a suit challenging the constitutionality of a state official's ac......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • FEDERAL COURTS AND TAKINGS LITIGATION.
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 97 Nbr. 2, January 2022
    • January 1, 2022
    ...a fair tribunal, and that direct review would be insufficient as to issues of state law and as to amount). (70) See, e.g., Smyth v. Ames, 169 U.S. 466, 528 (71) As the Court would describe the common law of Texas prior to further regulation, the owner of land has title to oil and gas in pla......

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