Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. Hefley
158 U.S. 98 (1895)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Gulf, Colorado & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. Hefley, 158 U.S. 98 (1895)

Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway Company v. Hefley

No. 255

Submitted April 4, 1895

Decided April 29, 1895

158 U.S. 98

Syllabus

The Texas statute of May 6, 1882, making it unlawful for a railroad company in that state to charge and collect a greater sum for transporting freight than is specified in the bill of lading, is, when applied to freight transported into the state from a place without it, in conflict with the provision in section 6 of the Interstate Commerce Act of February 4, 1887, c. 104, 24 Stat. 379, as amended by the Act of March 2, 1889, c. 382, 25 Stat. 855, that it shall be unlawful for such carrier to charge and collect a greater or less compensation for the transportation of the property than is specified in the published schedule of rates provided for by the act, and in force at the time, and, being thus in conflict, it is not applicable to interstate shipments.

Page 158 U. S. 99

When a state statute and a federal statute operate upon the same subject matter and prescribe different rules concerning it, and the federal statute is one within the competency of Congress to enact, the state statute must give way.

On May 6, 1882, the Legislature of the State of Texas passed the following act:

"SEC 1. Be it enacted by the legislature of the State of Texas that it shall be unlawful for any railroad company in this state, its officers, agents or employees, to charge and collect, or to endeavor to charge and collect, from the owner, agent or consignee of any freight, goods, wares and merchandise, of any kind or character whatever a greater sum for transporting said freight, goods, wares and merchandise than is specified in the bill of lading."

"SEC. 2. That any railroad company, its officers, agents, or employees having possession of any goods, wares and merchandise of any kind or character whatever shall deliver the same to the owner, his agent, or consignee upon payment of the freight charges as shown by the bill of lading."

"SEC. 3. That any railroad company, its officers, agents, or employees that shall refuse fuse to deliver to the owner, agent, or consignee any freight, goods, wares, and merchandise of any kind or character whatever upon the payment or tender of payment of the freight charges due as shown by the bill of lading, the said railroad company shall be liable in damages to the owner of said freight, goods, wares, or merchandise to an amount equal to the amount of the freight charges for every day said freight, goods, wares, and merchandise is held after payment or tender of payment of the charges due as shown by the bill of lading, to be recovered in any court of competent jurisdiction."

Laws of Texas, extra session, 1882, c. 26, p. 35.

Under that act, the defendants in error commenced an action before a justice of the peace in the County of Milam to recover $82.80. After judgment, the case was appealed to the county court of the county. In that court, a trial was had, a jury being waived, which resulted in a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs and against the railway company for the full amount

Page 158 U. S. 100

claimed. That was the highest court in the state to which the case could be taken, and thereupon the defendant sued out this writ of error.

The facts appear in the findings made by the trial court, and are as follows: on August 4, 1890, Wolf and Kramer, a firm doing business in St. Louis, Missouri, shipped from that city a carload of furniture to the plaintiffs at Cameron, Texas. The shipment was by the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Company, and the bill of lading issued by that company named 69 cents per 100 pounds as the rate. At this rate, the freight charges amounted to $82.80. On the arrival of the car at Cameron, the plaintiffs presented this bill of lading to the agent of the defendant company, together with $82.80, and demanded the furniture. The agent refused to deliver without payment of $100.80, that being the amount of charges due at the rate of 84 cents per 100 pounds. This was the rate named in the printed tariff sheet posted in the railroad office at Cameron. As a matter of fact, before the shipment at St. Louis, the rate had, by the companies, been reduced to 69 cents, but the new tariff sheet had not reached Cameron, and the agent was ignorant of the reduction. While declining to deliver the goods except upon payment at the rate named in his tariff sheet, he told the plaintiffs that he would telegraph for instructions. He did so, and was advised that the rate had been reduced, and to accept 69 cents, but the telegram was not received at once, and so the furniture was detained one full day. So far as appears, the St. Louis and San Francisco Railway Company was not only a different corporation from the defendant, but under separate management and control, though, as respects through shipments, acting under a joint tariff.

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