Missouri, K. & T. Ry. Co. v. Commissioners - 183 U.S. 53 (1901)


U.S. Supreme Court

Missouri, K. & T. Ry. Co. v. Commissioners, 183 U.S. 53 (1901)

Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company v.

Missouri Railroad and Warehouse Commissioners

No. 11

Argued and submitted October 16, 1901

Decided November 11, 1901

183 U.S. 53

Syllabus

When a state court refuses permission to remove to a federal court a case pending before the state court, and the federal court orders its removal, this Court has jurisdiction to determine whether there was error on the part of the state court in retaining the case.

The plaintiffs were citizens of the Missouri, in which this action was brought. The railway company was a citizen of the Kansas. On the face of record, there was therefore diverse citizenship, authorizing, on proper proceedings being taken to bring it about, the removal of the action from the state court to the federal court, and the State of Missouri is not shown to have such an interest in the result as would warrant the conclusion that the state was the real party in interest, and the consequent refusal of the motion for removal.

Page 183 U. S. 54

This case involves the question of removal from a state to a federal court.

The State of Missouri has a body of statutes for the regulation of railroads. By one section a board of railroad commissioners is created. To this board is committed the duty of supervising the conduct and charges of railroads, of hearing and deciding complaints against them, and making such orders as the circumstances require. Section 1143, Rev.Stat. Mo. (1899), identical with section 2646, Rev.Stat. Mo. (1889), contains this provision:

"SEC. 1143. Commissioners to See to Enforcement of Article -- Investigate Complaints. -- It shall be the duty of the railroad commissioners of this state to see that the provisions of this article are enforced. When complaint is made in writing by any person having an interest in the matter about which complaint is made, that any rate or rates established by any common carrier are unreasonable, unjust, or extortionate, or that any of the provisions of this article have been or are being violated, it shall be the duty of said railroad commissioners to proceed at once to investigate such complaint and determine the truth of the same."

The section also authorizes the commissioners to summon witnesses, to punish for failure or refusal to attend or testify, declares that any common carrier willfully or knowingly obstructing of preventing the commissioners from making such investigations shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by a fine. Other sections provide for penalties and forfeitures. In section 1144, the same as section 2647, Rev.Stat. 1889, is this clause:

"SEC. 1144. Forfeitures, How Recovered and Disposed of. -- The forfeitures and penalties herein provided for shall go to the county school fund of the county where sued for, and may be recovered in a civil action in the name of the State of Missouri at the relation of the board of railroad commissioners to the use of said fund."

Section 1150 (section 2653, Rev.Stat. 1889) reads as follows:

"SEC. 1150. Proceedings when Order of Commissioners is Disobeyed -- Circuit Court -- Enforce or Renew Order -- Proceedings. --

Page 183 U. S. 55

Where the complaint involves either a private or a public question as aforesaid, and the commissioners have made a lawful order or requirement in relation thereto, and where such common carrier, or the proper officer, agent, or employee thereof, shall violate, refuse, or neglect to obey any such order or requirement, it shall be lawful for the board of railroad commissioners, or any person or company interested in such order or requirement, to apply in a summary way, by petition, to any circuit court at any county in this state into or through which the line of railway of the said common carrier enters or runs, alleging such violation or disobedience, as the case may be, and the said court shall have power to hear and determine the matter on such short notice to the common carrier complained of as the court shall deem reasonable. And such notice may by served on such common carrier, its officers, agents, or servants, in such manner as the court may direct, and said court shall proceed to hear and determine the matter speedily in such manner as to do justice in the premises, and to this end said court shall have power, if it thinks fit, to direct and prosecute in such mode and by such persons as it may appoint, all such inquiries as may seem needful to enable it to form a just judgment in the matter of such petition. On such hearing, the report of said commissioners shall be prima facie evidence of the matter therein stated, and if it be made to appear to the court on such hearing, or on report of such persons appointed as aforesaid, that the lawful orders or requirements of such commissioners drawn in question have been violated or disobeyed, it shall be lawful for such court to issue a writ of injunction or other proper process, mandatory or otherwise, to restrain such common carrier from further continuing such violation of such order or requirement of said commissioners, and enjoin obedience to the same. If such court shall hold and decide that any order of said board of railroad commissioners involved in such proceeding was not a lawful order, said court shall, without any reference to the regularity or legality of the proceedings of said board or of the order thereof, proceed to make such order as the said board should have made, and to enforce said order by the process of said court, and to enforce and collect

Page 183 U. S. 56

the forfeitures and penalties herein provided in all respects according to the provisions of this act. And in case of any disobedience of any such injunction or other proper process, mandatory or otherwise, it shall be lawful for such court to issue writs of attachment, or other proper process of said court incident or applicable to writs of injunction or other proper process, mandatory or otherwise, against such common carrier, and if a corporation, against one or more of the directors, officers, or agents of the same, or against any owner, lessee, trustee, receiver, or other person failing to obey such writ of injunction or other process, mandatory or otherwise, and said court may make an order directing such common carrier or other person so disobeying such writ of injunction or other proper process, mandatory or otherwise, to pay such sum of money, not exceeding for each carrier or person in default the sum of one hundred dollars per day for every day after a day to be named in the order that such carrier or other person shall fail to obey such injunction or other proper process, mandatory or otherwise, and such money shall be payable to the school fund of the county in which such proceeding is pending, and payment thereof may, without prejudice to any other mode of recovering the same, be enforced by attachment or order in the nature of a writ of execution, in like manner as if the same had been recovered by final decree in personam in such court. When the subject in dispute shall be of the value of one hundred dollars or more, either party to such proceeding before such court may appeal to the proper appellate court in the state, in the same manner that appeals are taken from such courts in this state in other proceedings involving like sums of money, but such appeal shall not operate to stay or supersede the order of the court or the execution of any writ or process thereon, unless stay of proceedings be ordered by the court from which the appeal is taken, or by the appellate court to which the appeal is taken, upon the application of the appealing party. Whenever any such petition shall be filed by the commissioners as aforesaid, it shall be the duty of the attorney general, when requested by said commissioners, to prosecute the same. All proceedings commenced upon such petition shall, upon application of the

Page 183 U. S. 57

petitioner, be advanced upon the docket and take precedence of any other case upon the docket except criminal cases. The costs of such proceedings may be, with the approval of the attorney general and governor of the state, when such suit is brought by any private person, and when brought by said commissioners shall be ordered by the commissioners to be, paid, in the first instance, out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, and if upon final hearing the decision is against the said common carrier or other person against whom the proceeding is being prosecuted, such common carrier or person shall be liable for the costs, for which judgment may be rendered as in any other case."

Under the authority of these statutes, upon a hearing after complaint and notice, the railroad commissioners found that the railway company was charging excessive and illegal rates for travel over what is known as the Boonville Bridge across the Missouri River, and made and entered of record an order directing it to discontinue such charges. This order was dated July 22, 1895. The railway company not complying with the order, a suit was instituted on August 17, 1895, in the Circuit Court of Cooper County, Missouri, by such commissioners, setting forth the facts and praying process, mandatory or otherwise, to restrain the defendant from further continuing to violate the law and the order of the commissioners. The company in due time filed a petition for removal to the circuit court of the United States, alleging that it was a corporation created and existing under the laws of the State of Kansas and a citizen of that state, and that the plaintiffs were citizens of the State of Missouri. No question was made as to the sufficiency of the petition and bond in respect to any formal matter. The state court refused to order the removal, notwithstanding which the railway company took a transcript of the record and filed it in the federal court, where a motion to remand was made and overruled. 97 F. 113. The state court, after refusing to order the removal, proceeded with the hearing of the case, the railway company declining to take any part therein. On such hearing, a decree was entered in accordance with the petition of the railroad commissioners. This decree was appealed

Page 183 U. S. 58

to the supreme court of the state, and by that court on June 30, 1899, affirmed. 151 Mo. 644.



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