Donovan v. Pennsylvania Co.
199 U.S. 279 (1905)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Donovan v. Pennsylvania Co., 199 U.S. 279 (1905)

Donovan v. Pennsylvania Company

No. 5

Argued January 5, 1905

Decided November 27, 1905

199 U.S. 279

Syllabus

Although its functions are public, a railroad company holds the legal title to the property employed in the discharge of its duties, and while it must under all circumstances do everything reasonably necessary for the accommodation of passengers and shippers, it may use its property to the best advantage of the public and itself, and for that end may make reasonable rules and regulations for the use of its property consistent with the purposes for which it is created and not inconsistent with legally established regulations. When not unnecessary, unreasonable, or arbitrary, a railroad may make arrangements with, including the granting of special privileges to, a single concern to supply passengers arriving at its terminals with hacks and cabs, and it is not bound, at least in the absence of valid state legislation requiring it to do so, to accord similar privileges to other persons, even though they be licensed hackmen. Such an exclusive arrangement is not a monopoly in the odious sense of the word, nor does it involve an improper use by a railroad company of its property .

Public sidewalks and streets are for use by all on equal terms for proper purposes subject to valid regulations prescribed by the constituted authorities.

Where there is a continuing trespass by a number of parties, and a suit of law could only determine a particular controversy at a particular time, a court of equity may meet such an unusual emergency and by a comprehensive decree determine finally the controversy between the parties,

Page 199 U. S. 280

avoid a multiplicity of suits and conserve the public interest; and so held that the Pennsylvania Company could maintain a suit against hackmen combined together in disregard of its regulation enjoining them from congregating upon the sidewalk adjacent to its terminal at Chicago so as to interfere with the ingress and egress of passengers.

The rights of a railroad company as abutting owner of the sidewalks adjacent to the property on which its station stands and those of its passengers are not paramount to the rights of the general public to legitimately use the sidewalk, and licensed hackmen, unless forbidden by local regulations, may, within reasonable limits, use a public sidewalk in properly prosecuting their calling so long as such use does not obstruct others in legitimately using it upon equal terms.

This suit involves some questions as to the relative rights of the parties in the use of a railroad passenger station and depot grounds, and in the use of the public sidewalk and street adjacent to such station and grounds.

The facts out of which the controversy has arisen are clearly established, and may thus be summarized:

By a lease executed in 1871, the Pennsylvania Company, a corporation of Pennsylvania, engaged in transporting passengers and freight by railroad, acquired the possession and control of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railway and all its rolling stock and property, the latter railway extending from Pittsburgh to a passenger station at or near the corner of Canal and Adams Streets in Chicago.

In 1880, the lessee company erected on the leased premises a new passenger house, now known as the Union Passenger Station, which ever since has been and is now occupied and used by it and its tenants, the Chicago & Alton Railway Company, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway Company, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company, and the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway Company. The companies just named occupy and use that station under a perpetual lease by which the Pennsylvania Company, as between it an its tenants, has charge of the station, with authority to control and manage all trains therein as well as all watchmen and employees in the business there transacted.

Page 199 U. S. 281

This passenger station is the only terminus in Chicago of each of those lines of railway, and through that station alone can the several companies using it conduct an exchange of passengers and baggage and the transportation and handling of the United States mail and express parcels.

The extent of the business done at that station is indicated by the statement that the Chicago & Alton Railway Company controls and operates in the transaction of what is commonly called interstate business over 1,000 miles of railway; the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway Company, over 7,000 miles; the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company, over 6,000 miles; the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway Company, over 1,400 miles, and the Pennsylvania Company, over 1,000 miles.

At this station, the average number of passengers arriving and departing is over 30,000 each day; the average number of parcels of baggage daily received and delivered is over 2,200, and the average number of tons of United States mail daily received and delivered is over 250. Passenger trains to the number of 250 arrive and depart each day. This statement does not include the large number of express parcels daily handled at the station.

All tickets of interstate passengers arriving and departing from this station, known as through tickets, have attached to each a check or coupon for conveyance through Chicago to the station of the connecting line of railroad designated on such tickets, and not running into or out of the passenger depot of the Pennsylvania Company. The latter company and the other companies named have contracts for the use of a line of omnibuses or conveyances for the performance of the services called for by such coupons or checks, and those omnibuses or conveyances form the only regular connecting lines of transportation between the Pennsylvania Company's station and the stations of other railways in Chicago.

Page 199 U. S. 282

Besides the Pennsylvania Company's station, there are five other railway stations in Chicago.

The main entrance to and exits from the Pennsylvania Company's station for passengers, for employees, and for the public using the station, is on Canal Street, about 100 feet north of Adams Street. Substantially all passengers, whether arriving or departing, pass through that entrance, which is at the head of a flight of stairs leading down to and up from the station platform upon which trains arrive and depart.

The present suit was instituted by the Pennsylvania Company against the defendant Donovan and others, citizens of Illinois, for the purpose of protecting that company in the enjoyment of certain alleged rights and privileges in respect of its passenger station and depot grounds in Chicago. The plaintiff alleged that those rights had been violated by the defendants, and, unless enjoined from so doing, they would continue to violate them, to its great damage.

After referring to its efforts for many years to protect incoming and outgoing passengers from extortion and annoyance practiced by local hackmen, expressmen, and hotel runners congregating about its station, and noisily soliciting the patronage of passengers, the plaintiff, besides stating the above facts, alleged that it was compelled, in 1894, to institute a partial hack service of its own; and, for the purpose of protecting the rights of passengers, it made, on the thirty-first day of December, 1894, an arrangement, or contract, with one Eighme for the purpose of furnishing sufficient carriage and cab service to passengers arriving at its station, and gave to him for a carriage stand a small piece of ground, about thirty-two feet wide and about ten feet long, in the northwest corner of its passenger station at the corner of Madison Street, near its power house, requiring him to keep at all times clean vehicles, carriages, and cabs with uniformed, honest, and competent drivers, who would be satisfactory to the company; to make charges for the use of such carriages and cabs only in accordance with the ordinances of the City of Chicago; that Eighme

Page 199 U. S. 283

had been allowed to place an agent inside the company's station to notify passengers that suitable cabs and carriages could be obtained from such agent; that, by means of such arrangement, the company made full provision for the wants of incoming passengers desiring cabs or carriages for transportation from its station to any part of Chicago. The arrangement or agreement with Eighme was terminated by the company on the thirty-first day of January, A.D. 1902, and a similar arrangement was made with the Parmelee Transfer Company, which thereafter succeeded Eighme in the same business, and now carried it on in the same manner.

The plaintiff charged a conspiracy and confederation among the defendants -- hack drivers and members of the Chicago Hack, Coupe & Cab Drivers' Union -- to injure its business and property rights, alleging that they daily gathered in numbers from eight to twenty men at a time, in rows and groups, upon the sidewalk in front of its main entrance, entered the company's station at its main entrance by twos and threes at a time, without plaintiff's consent and against its express objections, and loud and boisterous voices and manner solicited incoming passengers and baggage for their vehicles; that defendants, by their numbers and noisy calls, harassed and annoyed passengers, sometimes forcibly laying hold of them when leaving the station in order to secure their patronage, to the annoyance and confusion of passengers, and to the injury and damage of the plaintiffs; that the number of the defendants, upon the arrival of each train at the entrance and within the station, soliciting businesses, had become so great that, by their boisterous actions and obstruction of the sidewalk and the interior of plaintiff's station, without its consent, they had in large part deprived plaintiff of its lawful property rights in the street frontage, and of the free and full use of its station and property, and thereby created and continued a private nuisance damaging to the plaintiff's property, depriving it of the full, lawful, beneficial use of its station and street frontage, and of the main entrance thereto, and had prevented

Page 199 U. S. 284

and now daily prevented it from securing to passengers a free and uninterrupted passage from and to its station and to arriving and departing trains, and that, by such acts of the defendants, great and substantial damages were inflicted upon plaintiff's property, different in kind and degree from that suffered by the general public, incapable of computation, and which could not be compensated at law.

It was further averred in the bill that the defendants asserted the right -- and acted upon that claim and assertion -- to enter the station of the plaintiff at all times, in such numbers as suited their purposes, to remain there and occupy such portions of the station as they saw fit in soliciting the custom of incoming passengers, regardless of the consent or the regulations of the plaintiff, or the use to which its property is lawfully devoted, and to the prejudice of its duties and business as a common carrier, and by their actions largely deprived the plaintiff of the control of its property, to its irreparable loss and damage.

Alleging that its rights could not be effectively protected except by the decree of a court of equity, the plaintiff prayed that the defendants be perpetually enjoined from "entering the station" of the plaintiff

"for the purpose of soliciting the custom of incoming passengers for cabs, carriages, express wagons, or hotels, respectively, and that the occupation of the sidewalk and street abutting the main entrance of your orator's said station by said defendants for the purpose of soliciting custom of passengers for their said cabs, carriages, express wagons, and hotels be decreed to be a nuisance to your orator, and damaging to its property, and that said defendants and each of them, and all persons acting in concert with them, whose names are unknown to your orator, may be perpetually enjoined from congregating singly or in larger numbers upon the said sidewalk at the main or any other entrance of your orator's said station for the purpose of plying their respective vocations as hackmen, cabmen, expressmen, or hotel runners, and from interfering with or soliciting the custom of any of the passengers

Page 199 U. S. 285

upon the sidewalk adjoining said station at any main or other entrance to said station, and that your orator may have such other and further relief in the premises as the nature of its case may require, and to your honors shall seem meet."

The defendants filed an answer putting in issue the material allegations of the bill and insisting upon their legal right to have their vehicles in the public street in front of the company's station, and to go upon the plaintiff's depot grounds or into its station, as well as to stand upon the sidewalk in front of the main entrance to the station, for the purpose of soliciting the business of incoming or outgoing passengers.

A motion for an injunction against the defendants was heard upon the pleadings and upon affidavits filed by the respective parties. The circuit court granted a preliminary injunction to the effect that the defendants and all persons claiming to act under their authority, direction, or control, or to whom notice of the court's order or injunction should come, refrain

"from entering the passenger station of complainant at the corner of Adams and Canal Streets, in the City of Chicago, to solicit custom of the incoming passengers for cabs, carriages, express wagons, or hotels, and do absolutely desist and refrain from congregating upon the sidewalk in front of, adjacent to, or about such entrances to said passenger station, and from soliciting the custom of passengers for cabs, carriages, express wagons, or hotels until the further order of the court in the premises."

The defendants appealed from that order, and it was affirmed in the circuit court of appeals, except the last clause thereof, which was modified by restraining the defendants

"from congregating upon the sidewalk in front of, adjacent to, or about the entrances of appellee's [company's] passenger station . . . and from there soliciting the custom of passengers, so as to interfere with the ingress and egress of passengers and employees."

120 F. 215. Subsequently, a final decree was passed in the circuit court in conformity with the above order of the circuit court of appeals.

Page 199 U. S. 286

That decree, upon appeal by the defendants, was affirmed in the latter court, and the case is now before this Court upon writ of certiorari, sued out by the defendants.

Page 199 U. S. 292

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