St Louis, Iron Mountain Southern Railway Company v. William Knight, 183

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBrandeis
Citation244 U.S. 368,61 L.Ed. 1200,37 S.Ct. 611
PartiesST. LOUIS, IRON MOUNTAIN, & SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY, Appt., v. WILLIAM F. McKNIGHT, J. Sam Rowland, and George W. Bellamy, Railroad Commissioners of the State of Arkansas, Howard H. Gallup, 1 and William J. Metcalf
Docket NumberNo. 183,183
Decision Date04 June 1917

244 U.S. 368
37 S.Ct. 611
61 L.Ed. 1200


WILLIAM F. McKNIGHT, J. Sam Rowland, and George W. Bellamy, Railroad Commissioners of the State of Arkansas, Howard H. Gallup,1 and William J. Metcalf.

No. 183.
Argued May 2, 1917.
Decided June 4, 1917.

Page 369

Messrs. John M. Moore and Edward J. White for appellant.

Mr. Allyn Smith for appellees.

Mr. Justice Brandeis delivered the opinion of the court:

On July 18, 1908, the St. Louis, Iron Mountain, & Southern Railway Company filed in the western division of the circuit (now district) court of the United States for the eastern district of Arkansas a bill against the Railroad Commissioners of that state to enjoin the enforcement of intrastate freight and passenger rates promulgated by them. Two private citizens, Leigh and McLean, who were alleged to be shippers and travelers on the railroad, were joined as defendants; and the bill prayed that they 'and all other persons belonging to the same class, including all patrons' of the railroad, be enjoined from instituting any suits for penalties or double damages under the Arkansas statutes. On September 3, 1908, a temporary restraining order was granted which, besides enjoining the Railroad Commissioners from enforcing rates promulgated by them, ordered that the two private citizens.

'and all other persons and each of them from and after the time that they shall have knowledge of this order be enjoined from at any time instituting any such suit or action for or on account of any failure of the complainant to keep

Page 370

in effect and observe said inhibited rates or for the recovery of damages by reason of such failure, during the time this order shall continue in effect.'

The railway company then executed, as ordered, a bond with surety to the United States in the penal sum of $200,000, 'conditioned that the said complainant shall keep a correct account, showing, as respects the carriage of passengers and freight, the difference between the tariff actually charged and that which would have been charged had the rates inhibited hereby been applied, showing the particular carriage in question and the stations between which the same occurred, and the name of the person affected, so far as may be practicable, which record shall be made and kept subject to the further order of this court, and further conditioned that if it shall eventually be decided that so much of this order as inhibits the enforcement of the existing rates should not have been made, that said complainant shall, within a reasonable time, for be fixed by the court, refund in every instance to the party entitled thereto the excess of charge over what would have been charged had the inhibited rate been applied, together with lawful interest and damages.'

On June 23, 1909, an order was made for an additional bond without surety in the sum of $600,000, which provided, among other things, for giving to each passenger or shipper a receipt which would show the amount payable under the enjoined rates.2

Page 371

On May 11, 1911, a final decree was entered for the railway company, making permanent the injunction in the terms of the restraining order, and further ordering 'that the bond for injunction filed by the complainant here be released and the sureties thereon discharged from liability.' The decree was reversed by this court, with directions to dismiss the bill without prejudice (Allen v. St. Louis, I. M. & S. R. Co. 230 U. S. 553, 57 L. ed. 1625, 33 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1030); and upon filing of the mandate in the district court on July 18, 1913, this was done. But in the decree of dismissal the court 'of its own motion, and against the objection of the complainant, refers, under rule 15 of this court, the matter of damages alleged to have been sustained by the defendants, the Railroad Commission of the State of Arkansas, by reason of the granting of the temporary and permanent injunctions herein, to Jeremiah G. Wallace, Esq., who is hereby appointed a special master for the purpose of determining the damages sustained. That in determining these damages, for the recovery of which the said Commissioners are not acting for themselves, but for the benefit of all persons, shippers, consignees, and passengers who have sustained any damages by reason of the granting of said injunctions, the master is hereby authorized, for the purpose of ascertaining these facts, to examine witnesses, administer oaths, and call upon the plaintiff herein for any books or papers, or transcripts thereof, which, in his opinion, are necessary for the purpose of enabling him to determine any facts in issue in connection with any claim filed with him.

'And the master is further directed to give notice by publication . . . to the effect that all persons having any claims against the complainant by reason of the

Page 372

granting of the injunctions herein shall present the same to him on or before the 1st day of November, 1913, by filing with him the...

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