State v. Public Service Commission, No. 20668.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtGraves
Citation204 S.W. 497,275 Mo. 201
Decision Date04 June 1918
Docket NumberNo. 20668.
PartiesSTATE ex rel. CITY OF SEDALIA v. PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF MISSOURI et al.
204 S.W. 497
275 Mo. 201
STATE ex rel. CITY OF SEDALIA
v.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF MISSOURI et al.
No. 20668.
Supreme Court of Missouri, Division No. 1.
June 4, 1918.
Rehearing Denied July 5, 1918.

Appeal from Circuit Court, Cole County; J. G. Slate, Judge.

Certiorari by the State, on the relation of the City of Sedalia, against the Public Service Commission of Missouri and others, to determine the reasonableness of an order fixing water rates. From an affirmance of the order, relator appeals. Affirmed.

R. S. Robertson, of Sedalia, for appellant. Alex. Z. Patterson, Gen. Counsel, and James D. Lindsay, Asst. Counsel, both of Jefferson City, for respondent Public Service Commission. John H. Bothwell, of Sedalia, for respondent City Water Co.

GRAVES, J.


Stripped of all useless verbiage, this case involves but one question. By ordinance of the city of Sedalia, duly accepted by the predecessor of the City Water Company of Sedalia, Mo., it was provided that the rent on city hydrants should be $30 per annum, and certain other water service to the city should be free of charge. This was what is usually called the "franchise ordinance." It was never submitted to the vote of the people, but for the question here involved we deem this immaterial. The pasage of the ordinance by the city council, and the acceptance thereof by the predecessor of the said City Water Company, constituted a contract between the city and the water company.

From the record here it can be gathered that citizens of the said city complained of the water service, and their complaint was heard by the Public Service Commission, which resulted in the said Public Service Commission requiring the City Water Company to expend something near $100,000 for appropriate water reservoirs and other improvements. Thereafter the City Water Company applied to the Public Service Commission for increased rates for their service both to the city and the general public. This required an investigation as to the valuation of the plant and other Matters to be considered upon the question of increasing the rates. The relator here was permitted to intervene in these proceedings, which were consolidated as one. The relator planted its right upon the contract provided for in the ordinance, supra. Other trivial questions were raised, but to our mind they do not merit notice.

The Public Service Commission heard evidence as to the value of the water plant and other subjects proper to be considered upon the question of water rates. The city was a party throughout these hearings. The result was a general raising of rates, and especially a raising of hydrant rentals (which were to be paid by the city) from $30 per month to $45 per month. The ordinance aforesaid was in evidence upon this hearing. Not being satisfied with the rates fixed by the Public Service Commission, the city, by statutory certiorari, took the matter to the circuit court of Cole county, where the reasonableness of the rates fixed by the Public Service Commission was approved by that court, and from such judgment of approval and affirmance this appeal has been taken.

Under the facts of the record, the reasonableness of the rates fixed by the Public Service Commission cannot be seriously questioned. This leaves the single question as to whether or not the Public Service Commission had the lawful right to fix a rate, so far as the city is concerned, in excess of the ordinance rate. Such is the case when cleared of all driftwood.

I. The question in this case is one in a number of cases, either here or headed this way. The importance of the question bespeaks care and also requires us to take an invoice as to where we are under the Public Service Commission Act (Laws 1913, p. 556). We have adopted the idea of viewing this

204 S.W. 498

act in a kindly spirit by giving it a liberal construction. In State ex inf. v. Kansas City Gas Co., 254 Mo. loc. cit. 535, 163 S. W. 858, we said:

"The act, then, is a highly remedial one filling a manifest want, is worthy of hopeful future, and on well-settled legal principles is to be liberally construed to further its life and purpose by advancing the benefits in view and retarding the mischiefs struck at, all pro bono publico. Besides all which, the lawmaker himself has prescribed it `shall be liberally construed with a view to the public welfare, efficient facilities and substantial justice between patrons and public utilities.' Section 127."

See, also, State ex rel. v. Public Service Commission, 259 Mo. loc. cit. 713, 168 S. W. 1156.

Not only so, but we have traced the Public Service Commission Act to the police power of the state. In Gas Co. Case, supra, 254 Mo. loc. cit. 534, 163 S. W. 857, in speaking of this law, we said:

"That act is an elaborate law bottomed on the police power. It evidences a public policy hammered out on the anvil of public disc fission. It apparently recognizes certain generally accepted economic principles and conditions, to wit, that a public utility (like gas, water, car service, etc.) is in its nature a monopoly; that competition is inadequate to protect the public, and, if it exists, is likely to become an economic waste; that state regulation takes the place of and stands for competition; that such regulation, to command respect from patron or utility owner, must be in the name of the overlord, the state, and "to be effective must possess the power of intelligent visitation and the plenary supervision of every business feature to be finally (however invisibly) reflected in rates and quality of service. It recognizes that every expenditure, every dereliction, every share of stock or bond or note issued, as surely is finally reflected in rates and quality of service to the public, as does the moisture which arises in the atmosphere finally descend in rain upon the just and unjust willy nilly."

To like effect is State ex rel. v. Public Service Commission, 259 Mo. loc. cit. 712, 168 S. W. 1159, whereat it is said:

"The statute involved is new. Referable to the police power, it evidences a departure (or at least an advanced thought) in public policy in dealing with common carriers and public utilities in Missouri. It touches at so many vital...

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24 practice notes
  • Hight v. City of Harrisonville, No. 30446.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 29, 1931
    ...v. City of Atlanta, 78 S.E. 449; State ex rel. v. Public Service Comm., 259 Mo. 704; State ex rel. Scdalia v. Public Service Comm., 275 Mo. 201; Hesse v. City of Watertown (S.D.), supra. (8) The decision in Bell v. City of Fayette overlooks and conflicts with prior decisions of this court a......
  • May Department Stores Co. v. Union E.L. & P. Co., No. 34288.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 30, 1937
    ...province of the Public Service Commission to determine. State ex rel. v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 308 Mo. 328; State ex rel. v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 275 Mo. 201; State ex rel. v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 303 Mo. 212; State ex rel. v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 316 Mo. 233; State ex rel. v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 327 Mo. ......
  • State ex rel. Consumers Pub. Serv. V. Pub. Serv. Comm., No. 38680.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 3, 1944
    ...37, 327 Mo. 93; State ex rel. Public Serv Comm. v. Blair, 146 S.W. (2d) 865, 347 Mo. 220; State ex rel. Sedalia v. Public Serv. Comm., 204 S.W. 497, 275 Mo. 210; Sec. 5, Art. XII, Mo. Constitution; Chicago & Alton R. Co. v. Tranbarger, 238 U.S. 67. (3) The Commission's position is based......
  • State ex Inf. McKittrick v. Kirby, No. 37925.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 25, 1942
    ...N.Y., Annotated (1940), Civil Service Law, Section 14; People v. Harper, 91 Ill. 357; State ex rel. City of Sedalia v. Public Serv. Comm., 275 Mo. 201, 204 S.W. 497; Aetna Ins. Co. v. Hyde, 34 Fed. (2d) 185. (7) The appropriation required. It seems impossible that this court, in the face of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • Hight v. City of Harrisonville, No. 30446.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 29, 1931
    ...v. City of Atlanta, 78 S.E. 449; State ex rel. v. Public Service Comm., 259 Mo. 704; State ex rel. Scdalia v. Public Service Comm., 275 Mo. 201; Hesse v. City of Watertown (S.D.), supra. (8) The decision in Bell v. City of Fayette overlooks and conflicts with prior decisions of this court a......
  • May Department Stores Co. v. Union E.L. & P. Co., No. 34288.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 30, 1937
    ...province of the Public Service Commission to determine. State ex rel. v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 308 Mo. 328; State ex rel. v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 275 Mo. 201; State ex rel. v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 303 Mo. 212; State ex rel. v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 316 Mo. 233; State ex rel. v. Pub. Serv. Comm., 327 Mo. ......
  • State ex rel. Consumers Pub. Serv. V. Pub. Serv. Comm., No. 38680.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 3, 1944
    ...37, 327 Mo. 93; State ex rel. Public Serv Comm. v. Blair, 146 S.W. (2d) 865, 347 Mo. 220; State ex rel. Sedalia v. Public Serv. Comm., 204 S.W. 497, 275 Mo. 210; Sec. 5, Art. XII, Mo. Constitution; Chicago & Alton R. Co. v. Tranbarger, 238 U.S. 67. (3) The Commission's position is based......
  • State ex Inf. McKittrick v. Kirby, No. 37925.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • July 25, 1942
    ...N.Y., Annotated (1940), Civil Service Law, Section 14; People v. Harper, 91 Ill. 357; State ex rel. City of Sedalia v. Public Serv. Comm., 275 Mo. 201, 204 S.W. 497; Aetna Ins. Co. v. Hyde, 34 Fed. (2d) 185. (7) The appropriation required. It seems impossible that this court, in the face of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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