Knoxville Water Co. v. Knoxville - 189 U.S. 434 (1903)
U.S. Supreme Court
Knoxville Water Co. v. Knoxville, 189 U.S. 434 (1903)
Knoxville Water Company v. Knoxville
Argued March 13, 1903
Decided March 23, 1903
189 U.S. 434
The Knoxville Water Company was incorporated to construct waterworks near Knoxville with power to contract with the city and inhabitants for a supply of water and "to charge such price for the same as may be agreed upon between said company and said parties;" the general act under which the company was incorporated provided that it should not interfere with or impair the police or general powers of the municipal authorities, and they should have power by ordinance to regulate the price of water supplied by such company. The company in 1882 contracted for an exclusive privilege for thirty years to construct works, and after fifteen years to convey to the city at a price to be agreed upon or fixed by appraisal, and to "supply private consumers at not exceeding five cents per hundred gallons." Subsequently the city passed an ordinance reducing the price of water to private consumers below that rate. In an action to enforce penalties for overcharging the later rate,
Held that there was no contract on the part of the city to permit the
charge named therein, and that the charter having been accepted subject to the provision of the general act reserving the power in the municipal authorities to regulate the price of water, the subsequent ordinance was not void either as impairing the obligation of a contract, or as depriving the company of its property without due process of law.
The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.