« ForrigeFortsett »
Statement of the Case.
"(a) The said commission shall have power, and it shall be its duty, to fairly and justly classify and subdivide all freight and property of whatsoever character that may be transported over the railroads of this State into such general and special classes or subdivisions as may be found necessary and expedient.
(b) The commission shall have power, and it shall be its duty, to fix to each class or subdivision of freight a reasonable rate for each railroad subject to this act for the transportation of each of said classes and subdivisions.
"(c) The classifications herein provided for shall apply to and be the same for all railroads subject to the provisions of
"(d) The said commission may fix different rates for dif ferent railroads and for different lines under the same management, or for different parts of the same lines if found necessary to do justice, and may make rates for express companies different from the rates fixed for railroads.
"(e) The said commission shall have power, and it shall be its duty, to fix and establish for all or any connecting lines of railroad in this State reasonable joint rates of freight charges for the various classes of freight and cars that may pass over two or more lines of such railroads.
"(f) If any two or more connecting railroads shall fail to agree upon a fair and just division of the charges arising from the transportation of freights, passengers or cars over their lines, the commission shall fix the pro rata part of such charges to be received by each of said connecting lines.
"(g) Until the commission shall make the classifications and schedules of rates as herein provided for, and afterwards if they deem it advisable, they may make partial or special classifications for all or any of the railroads subject hereto, and fix the rates to be charged by such roads therefor; and such classifications and rates shall be put into effect in the manner provided for general classifications and schedules of rates.
"(h) The commission shall have power, and it shall be its duty from time to time, to alter, change, amend, or abolish
Statement of the Case.
any classification or rate established by it when deemed necessary; and such amended, altered, or new classifications or rates shall be put into effect in the same manner as the originals.
(2) The commission may adopt and enforce such rules, regulations, and modes of procedure as it may deem proper to hear and determine complaints that may be made against the classifications or the rates, the rules, regulations, and determinations of the commission.
"(j) The commission shall make reasonable and just rates of charges for each railroad subject hereto for the use or transportation of loaded or empty cars on its road; and may establish for each railroad or for all railroads alike reasonable rates for the storing and handling of freight and for the use of cars not unloaded after forty-eight hours' notice to the consignee, not to include Sundays.
"(k) The commission shall make and establish reasonable rates for the transportation of passengers over each or all of the railroads subject hereto, which rates shall not exceed the rates fixed by law. The commission shall have power to prescribe reasonable rates, tolls, or charges for all other services performed by any railroad subject hereto."
The first paragraph of the fourth section is in these words: "SEC. 4. Before any rates shall be established under this act, the commission shall give the railroad company to be affected thereby ten days' notice of the time and place when and where the rates shall be fixed; and said railroad company shall be entitled to be heard at such time and place, to the end that justice may be done; and it shall have process to enforce the attendance of its witnesses. All process herein provided for shall be served as in civil cases."
The remaining paragraphs give power to adopt rules of procedure. The fifth, sixth, and seventh sections are as follows:
"SEC. 5. In all actions between private parties and railway companies brought under this law, the rates, charges, orders, rules, regulations, and classifications prescribed by said commission before the institution of such action shall be held conclusive, and deemed and accepted to be reasonable, fair,
Statement of the Case.
and just, and in such respects shall not be controverted therein until finally found otherwise in a direct action brought for that purpose in the manner prescribed by sections 6 and 7 hereof.
"SEC. 6. If any railroad company or other party at interest be dissatisfied with the decision of any rate, classification, rule, charge, order, act, or regulation adopted by the commission, such dissatisfied company or party may file a petition setting forth the particular cause or causes of objection to such decision, act, rate, rule, charge, classification, or order, or to either or all of them, in a court of competent jurisdiction in Travis County, Texas, against said commission as defendant. Said action shall have precedence over all other causes on the docket of a different nature, and shall be tried and determined as other civil causes in said court. Either party to said action may appeal to the appellate court having jurisdiction of said cause, and said appeal shall be at once returnable to said appellate court, at either of its terms, and said action so appealed shall have precedence in said appellate court of all causes of a different character therein pending: Provided, That if the court be in session at the time such right of action accrues, the suit may be filed during such term and stand ready for trial after ten days' notice.
"SEC. 7. In all trials under the foregoing section the burden of proof shall rest upon the plaintiff, who must show by clear and satisfactory evidence that the rates, regulations, orders, classifications, acts, or charges complained of are unreasonable and unjust to it or them."
Sections 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 contain special provisions which are not material to the consideration of any question presented in this case.
Section 14 reads:
"SEC. 14. If any railroad company subject to this act, or its agent or officer, shall hereafter charge, collect, demand or receive from any person, company, firm, or corporation a greater rate, charge, or compensation than that fixed and established by the railroad commission for the transportation of freight, passengers, or cars, or for the use of any car on
Statement of the Case.
the line of its railroad, or any line operated by it, or for receiving, forwarding, handling, or storing any such freight or cars, or for any other service performed or to be performed by it, such railroad company and its said agent and officer shall be deemed guilty of extortion, and shall forfeit and pay to the State of Texas a sum not less than $100 nor more than $5000."
Section 15 defines unjust discrimination, and imposes a penalty of not less than $500 nor more than $5000 upon any railroad company violating any provision of the section.
Section 16 is levelled against officers and agents of railroads, and imposes a penalty of not less than $100 nor more than $1000 for certain offences denounced therein.
Section 17 declares that any railroad company violating the provisions of the act shall be liable to the persons injured thereby for the damages sustained in consequence of such violation, and in case it is guilty of extortion or discrimination, as defined in the act, shall pay, in addition to such damages to the person injured, a penalty of not less than $125 nor more than $500.
In sections 18 and 19 are further provisions as to penalties. The remaining sections, 20 to 24, inclusive, contain matter of detail which is unimportant in this case.
Three of the plaintiffs in error, Reagan, McLean, and Foster, were duly appointed and qualified as members of said railroad commission, and organized it on the 10th day of June, 1891. The other plaintiff in error, Culberson, is the attorney general of the State, who, by section 19 of the act, was charged with the duty of instituting suits in the name of the State for the recovery of all the penalties prescribed by the act, excepting those recoverable by individuals under the authority of section 17.
After the commission had organized on June 10, it proceeded to establish certain rates for the transportation of goods over the railroads in the State, and also certain regulations for the management of such transportation. Thereafter, on April 30, 1892, the Farmers' Loan and Trust Company filed its bill in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western District
Statement of the Case.
of Texas, making as defendants the railroad commissioners, the attorney general, the International and Great Northern Railroad Company, and Thomas M. Campbell, the receiver thereof, duly appointed by the District Court of Smith County, Texas. That bill, which is too long to be copied in full, alleged that the plaintiff was the trustee in a trust deed executed by the railroad company on the 15th day of June, 1881, to secure a second series of bonds, aggregating $7,054,000, bearing interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum; and that there was a prior issue of bonds to the amount of $7,954,000, secured by a conveyance to John S. Kennedy and Samuel Sloan, as trustees. It then set forth the railroad commission act heretofore referred to, or so much thereof as was deemed material, the proceedings of the commission, and the notices that were given to the railroad company, and attached as exhibits the several orders prescribing rates and regulations. It also averred generally that such rates were unreasonable and unjust, set forth certain specific facts which it claimed established the injustice and unreasonableness of those rates, and prayed a decree restraining the commission from enforcing those rates, or any other rates, and also restraining the attorney general from instituting any suits to recover penalties for failing to conform to such rates and obey such regulations. The International and Great Northern Railroad Company appeared, filed an answer and also a cross-bill similar in its scope and effect to the bill filed by the plaintiff, and praying substantially the same relief. The railroad commission and the attorney general at first filed answers, but, after a certain amount of testimony had been taken, (of the nature and extent of which we are not advised, inasmuch as it is not preserved in the record,) they withdrew their answers and filed demurrers, leave being given at the same time to the complainant and cross-complainant to amend the bill and cross-bill before the filing of the demurrer. The amendments to the bill and cross-bill were similar, and contained allegations more in detail of the losses in revenue sustained by the company through the enforcement of the tariffs, and the average reduction caused by such tariffs in the rate theretofore exist