State v. Crown Central Petroleum Corporation

Decision Date26 June 1963
Docket NumberNo. 11111,11111
PartiesThe STATE of Texas et al., Appellants, v. CROWN CENTRAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION et al., Appellees.
CourtTexas Court of Appeals
Dissenting opinion.

For majority opinion see 369 S.W.2d 458.

HUGHES, Justice.

In so far as the majority holds that the State has no cause of action based on failure to comply with Railroad Commission Special Order No. 7-47,648, until its validity has been finally determined, I agree. In so far as the majority holds that the State cannot sue for appropriate relief based on acts of discrimination not the subject matter of the above Special Order, I disagree. The Court states, as to the latter holding: 'The Commission has exclusive original jurisdiction to consider complaints of discrimination by commoncarrier purchasers under Article 6049a [Vernon's Ann.Civ.St.] and the appropriate Sections thereunder.' Cited to support this holding are Agey v. American Liberty Pipeline Co., 141 Tex. 379, 172 S.W.2d 972, Austin Court of Civil Appeals opinion, 167 S.W.2d 580; Deep South Oil Company of Texas v. Texas Gas Corporation, 328 S.W.2d 897, Beaumont Civil Appeals, writ ref., n. r. e.

Neither the State nor the Attorney General nor any County or District Attorney were parties to either of those cases. All that Agey held was that a private individual could not bring suit for himself to recover penalties recoverable under Sec. 11, Art. 6049a, for alleged discrimination by the Pipe Line in refusing to buy his oil the Court holding that only the Attorney General or a County or District Attorney possessed such authority. In the course of its opinion the Court stated:

'The Attorney General is the chief law officer of the State, and it is incumbent upon him to institute in the proper courts proceedings to enforce or protect any right of the public that is violated. Section 22 of Article 4 of the State Constitution, Vernon's Ann.St.; 5 Tex.Jur., p. 373, Sec. 5. He has the right to investigate the facts and exercise his judgment and discretion regarding the filing of a suit 5 Tex.Jur., p. 380, Sec. 8.'

With regard to this case appellees say: 'Appellants seek to avoid the plain holdings of American Liberty Pipe Line Co. v. Agey, 167 S.W.2d 580 (Aus.Civ.App., 1942, aff'd 141 Tex. 379, 172 S.W.2d 972), that 'Section 8, Article 6049a, which required common purchasers to purchase 'without discrimination in favor of one producer or person as against another in the same field, and without unjust or unreasonable discrimination as between fields' also provided, 'the question of justness or reasonableness to be determined by the Railroad Commission."'

This quotation from the Court of Civil Appeals' opinion, this Court, is a correct statement of the statutory provisions to which it refers. Such opinion does not in any manner resolve the question before us. It is to be noted that this Court in that case indicated that Agey's remedies were not restricted to those available through appeal to the Commission when it said: 'In so far as Agey's rights under the statute may have been infringed, he had ample protection through the Commission and by suit for damages and injunction in the courts.' Concededly this language was dictum, but it helps dispel the notion that Agey is authority for appellees here.

Deep South was a declaratory judgment suit in which the Court held:

'As this statutory regulation provides in detail the remedies for discrimination where none existed before, Thompson v. Consolidated Gas Utilities Corp., 300 U.S. 55, 57 S.Ct. 364, 371, 81 L.Ed. 510, these remedies are exclusive. Vance v. Southern Kansas R. Co., Tex.Civ.App., 152 S.W. 743; Mingus v. Wadley, 115 Tex. 551, 285 S.W. 1084. We therefore hold that damages may not be recovered in this action for any discrimination that may have existed or now does so, but appellant's remedy therefor must be through the provisions of Art. 6049a and related articles of our conservation statutes.'

Two questions were presented to the Supreme Court in this case by Deep South and we quote from its application for writ of error:

'(1) the basis upon which a common purchaser must prorate its purchases of gas in a given field in accordance with Article 6049a, V.A.T.S., and (2) the remedies available to a gas producer which has been discriminated against by the common purchaser in violation of said statute.'

It is obvious that the scope of authority of the Attorney General was not before the courts in Deep South.

Sec. 22, Art. 4, Texas Constitution, provides in part:

'The Attorney General * * * shall * * * from time to time, in the name of the State, take such action in the courts as may be proper and necessary to prevent any private corporation from exercising any power * * * not authorized by law.'

Appellees here are private corporations. The Attorney General has charged them with the commission of acts which are not authorized by law. He has brought a suit which only he has the authority to bring. If the statutes in question interfere with this constitutional power of the Attorney General, then they must yield. I am not satisfied that they should be so construed.

Arts. 6045 and 6048, Vol. 16B, V.A.C., defines and prohibits discrimination in the transportation of crude petroleum.

Art. 6049a, id., regulates storage tanks for hire and pipelines as public utilities in the storing and transportation of crude petroleum. The following portions of such Article are relied upon by appellees as vesting the Commission with exclusive original jurisdiction of all matters involved in this suit, and I copy them as shown in their brief:

'Section 4 provides:

"The Railroad Commission of Texas shall establish and enforce rules and regulations governing the character of facilities to be furnished by such utilities * * * and it shall also exercise such power upon petition of any person showing a substantial interest in the subject matter thereof.'

'Section 6 provides that every common carrier of crude petroleum shall file monthly reports with the Railroad Commission concerning its business during the preceding month.

'Section 6a provides:

"The Commission shall establish and promulgate rates of charges and regulations for gathering, transporting, loading and delivering crude petroleum by such common carriers in this State * * * and prescribe and enforce rules and regulations for the government and control of such common carriers in respect to their pipeline and receiving, transferring and loading facilities. * * *'

'Section 7 provides that the Commission may, after notice and hearing upon complaint by a party at interest, or upon its own initiative without complaint, require common carriers to extend or enlarge their pipelines, 'provided such extension or enlargement shall be found to be reasonable and required in the public interest and that the expense involved will not impair the ability of such common carrier * * * to perform its duty to the public.'

'Section 8 provides:

"* * * (that a common purchaser) shall purchase oil offered it for purchase without discrimination in favor of one producer or person as against another in the same field and without unjust or unreasonable discrimination as between fields * * *; the question of justice or reasonableness to be determined by the Railroad Commission. * * *'

'Section 8b provides:

"It shall be the duty of the Railroad Commission of Texas to see that the provisions of this Act are fully complied with, and it shall have the power, after notice and hearing, to make rules, regulations and orders, defining the distance that extensions or gathering lines shall be made to all oil or gas wells; and such other rules, regulations or orders as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act, and to prevent discrimination in purchases.'

'Section 9 provides:

"The Railroad Commission of Texas shall have authority to make rules and regulations for the enforcement of the provisions of this Act.'

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2 cases
  • Foree v. Crown Central Petroleum Corp., B--460
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Texas
    • 19 Junio 1968
    ...appeal from the order without being subjected to the heavy penalties and mandamus. 369 S.W.2d 458, at 462--463. Justice Hughes dissented. 369 S.W.2d 955. From a careful re-examination of the record in State v. Crown Central, we are now convinced that the judgment rendered in that case was e......
  • State v. Crown Central Petroleum Corp.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Texas. Court of Civil Appeals of Texas
    • 26 Junio 1963
    ...S.W.2d 897, er. ref., n. r. e. The judgment of the Trial Court is affirmed. Affirmed. HUGHES, J., dissenting. For dissenting opinion see 369 S.W.2d 955. * Held until time for filing Motions for Rehearing had expired, viz. July 11, ...

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