« ForrigeFortsett »
road commission and a member of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and were adopted in convention by the National Association and were subsequently approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission, although putting them in force was not imperatively prescribed by that body.
The Procter & Gamble Company, dissatisfied with the regulations concerning demurrage, in so far as they imposed in certain respects charges upon its tank cars, filed a complaint with the Interstate Commerce Commission charging the rules to be repugnant to the act to regulate commerce because unjust and oppressive and because to enforce them would create preferences and discriminations forbidden by the act. After hearing, the Commission made a report declaring that the rules complained of were in no sense in conflict with the act to regulate commerce, and on the contrary conformed to that act and tended to prevent and repress unlawful preferences and discriminations. An award of relief was therefore denied. In February, 1911, the Procter & Gamble Company filed a petition in the Commerce Court of the United States making defendants the United States, the Interstate Commerce Commission and the railroads who had been complained of in the proceeding before the Commission. The petition recited the facts stated above as to the character of the business of the petitioner, the ownership of tank cars, etc., the establishment of the rules for demurrage, their repugnancy to the act to regulate commerce, the injury which had resulted from being compelled to pay the charges for demurrage in accordance with the rules, the application made to the Commission and the refusal of that body to award relief. The conception upon which the petition was based is shown in the excerpt in the margin,' wherein it was also charged that the order of the
Complainant avers that said order of said Interstate Commerce Commission, in dismissing its complaint as above set forth, is null and
Opinion of the Court.
225 U. S.
Commission dismissing the complaint as above set forth “is null and void and beyond the power of said Interstate Commerce Commission, in that it sustains the validity of. · said demurrage rules.”
The prayer was as follows:
“Wherefore, complainant prays that the aforesaid order of said Interstate Commerce Commission made in said cause No. 3208 on November 14, 1910, be set aside and annulled, and that the defendant railway companies, and each of them, be enjoined from collecting or attempting to collect any demurrage charges upon complainant's loaded tank cars after said cars have been delivered to complainant and placed upon tracks owned or controlled by it; and further, that said defendant railway companies and each of them be required to repay to complainant herein all sums found to have been wrongfully collected by them, or any of them, under the rule here complained of; and void and beyond the power of said Interstate Commerce Commission, in that it sustains the validity of Rule I of said demurrage; that said Rule I in so far as it provides that privately owned cars under lading on private tracks are in railroad service and subject to the demurrage charges imposed by said tariffs until the lading is removed, is unjust and unreasonable, in that it deprives complainant of the right to use its said private cars upon private tracks for its own purposes without paying the defendant railway companies demurrage charges therefor, after said private cars have been delivered to complainant and have actually ceased to be engaged in railroad service; that the charges exacted by the defendant railway companies of complainant under said provision of said rule permit said defendants to take complainant's property without compensation, and deprive it of its property without due process of law, in violation of the Constitution of the United States, and particularly of Article V in amendment thereof, and that said provision of said rule is in violation of the said Act to Regulate Commerce and particularly of 88 1 and 15 thereof as amended June 29, 1906; that said defendants are now exacting such demurrage charges under the provisions of said rule, and will continue to do so, unless the said order of said Interstate Commerce Commission is set aside and annulled by this court, and defendant railway companies are enjoined from enforcing the provisions of said rule.
that complainant be granted such other and further relief as it may be entitled to in the premises." The railroads answered the bill. The United States
. and the Interstate Commerce Commission appearing for the purpose, challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the cause, and moved to dismiss, upon this general ground: "Because the order of the Interstate Commerce Commission complained of directed no affirmative relief and the negative order of the Commission dismissing the complaint affords no ground for an action in this court;" and upon the following more detailed specifications filed on behalf of the United States:
“(a) It prays that the order of the Interstate Commerce Commission be enjoined, when said order directed no action against any party and therefore the same is not subject either to enforcement or to injunction. “(6) It prays that the defendant common carriers, who
, are not proper parties to this proceeding except on their own motion, be enjoined from collecting the demurrage mentioned, when no order inhibiting the same has been made by the Interstate Commerce Commission, and in the absence of such an order this court has no power to grant such relief.
"(c) It prays that the defendant common carriers be required to repay to complainant all sums heretofore wrongfully collected as demurrage, when this court has no power or jurisdiction to grant such relief, either with or without an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission directing such repayment.”
The court, declining at the threshold to consider the demurrers and motion to dismiss, postponed their consideration until the hearing on the merits. There was a consent by all the defendants except the United States and the Interstate Commerce Commission that the case be heard upon the evidence and documents introduced before the Commission and the report of that body. The
United States and the Interstate Commerce Commission, however, on the overruling of its demurrer and a refusal to grant its motion to dismiss, elected to stand thereon and declined to plead further.
In disposing of the case, the court considered it in a two-fold aspect-first, as to its jurisdiction; and, second, as to the merits of the case. On the first subject it held, a, that it had jurisdiction of the cause, and that the refusal of the Interstate Commerce Commission to afford relief to the Procter & Gamble Company was, for the purposes of jurisdiction of the court, the exact equivalent of an order of the Commission granting affirmative relief, and, b, as a corollary of this power it was further decided that there was jurisdiction to award pecuniary relief for demurrage if any was illegally exacted. On the merits, however, it was decided that the Interstate Commerce Commission had rightfully refused to grant relief and that there was no foundation for the contention that the property of the company in its private tank cars was taken without due process of law by the demurrage regulations. On this subject it was declared that as the company had accepted the provisions of the published tariffs concerning the use of the tank cars, therefore those cars were submitted to the regulations which the carriers had lawfully established. In other words, the court concluded that because the company had availed of the proffer of the railroads to use the cars in transportation and pay for their use a stated sum, the company had acquired no right to disregard restrictions against preferences and discriminations embodied in the act to regulate commerce.
The case was then brought here by the appeal of the Procter & Gamble Company. That company insists that the court below erred in not awarding the relief which was asked and in dismissing the petition. On the other hand the Interstate Commerce Commission and the railroads insist that the court was right in refusing relief and dis
missing the bill. Before we can come, if at all, to consider the merits, however, it is necessary to dispose of the question concerning the jurisdiction of the court below to entertain the petition, because the United States insists at bar, as it did in the lower court, that the court erred in overruling the demurrer to the jurisdiction and refusing to dismiss the cause for want of jurisdiction.
The provisions of the act to establish the Commerce Court fixing the jurisdiction of that court are stated in the first section of the act of June 18, 1910, 36 Stat. 539, c. 309, now $ 207 of the Judiciary Act of March 3, 1911, 36 Stat. 1087, 1148. And in view of the necessity of having the provisions of the section immediately in mind we reproduce them. They are as follows:
“SEC. 207. The Commerce Court shall have the jurisdiction possessed by circuit courts of the United States and the judges thereof immediately prior to June eighteenth, nineteen hundred and ten, over all cases of the following kinds:
"First. All cases for the enforcement, otherwise than by adjudication and collection of a forfeiture or penalty or by infliction of criminal punishment, of any order of the Interstate Commerce Commission other than for the payment of money.
“Second. Cases brought to enjoin, set aside, annul, or suspend in whole or in part any order of the Interstate Commerce Commission.
“Third. Such cases as by section three of the Act entitled 'An Act to further regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the States,' approved February nineteenth, nineteen hundred and three, are authorized to be maintained in a circuit count of the United States.
“Fourth. All such mandamus proceedings as under the provisions of section twenty or section twenty-three of the Act entitled 'An Act to regulate commerce,' approved February fourth, eighteen hundred and eighty-seven, as