Southern Ry. Co. v. St. Louis Hay & Grain Co. - 214 U.S. 297 (1909)
U.S. Supreme Court
Southern Ry. Co. v. St. Louis Hay & Grain Co., 214 U.S. 297 (1909)
Southern Railway Company v.
St. Louis Hay & Grain Company
Argued March 8, 9, 1909
Decided June 1, 1909
214 U.S. 297
A carrier which is at service and expense in stopping goods in transit for inspection and reloading for the benefit of the shipper is entitled to compensation in addition to the actual expense incurred.
Where the Interstate Commerce Commission has held, and its order has been affirmed by the circuit court and circuit court of appeals, that
a carrier cannot charge for a service rendered at the request and for the benefit of the shipper any amount in excess of the actual expense incurred, and fixed a rate less than this Court considers reasonable, this Court cannot, where the testimony has not been preserved in the record, fix a fair and reasonable charge, but will reverse the judgments of both courts and remand the case to the former court with instructions to send the matter back to the commission for further investigation and report.
153 F. 728 reversed.
This was an action brought by the defendant in error on an award of the Interstate Commerce Commission. In a general way, the facts are as follows: the St. Louis Hay & Grain Company is a corporation organized under the laws of the State of Illinois, with its principal office at St. Louis, Missouri, a dealer in hay, in the course of which business it operates two warehouses in East St. Louis, Illinois. The railway company is the owner and operating a line of railway extending from East St. Louis through the Eastern District of Illinois to points in Southern states, to which the hay an grain company is engaged in shipping hay. The company buys some hay at its warehouses, brought in from the adjacent country, but a large portion of it is bought at points to the north and west. Some of the hay thus purchased is sent directly through East St. Louis in the cars in which it was originally loaded, but much of it is taken to its warehouses, there unloaded, inspected, and reloaded for the Southern markets. This is called a reconsignment. Taking these cars which are to be reconsigned to the hay and grain company's warehouses, and taking the reloaded cars therefrom, involves the use of the cars for a longer time, and there is some expense in hauling the cars. For this the railway company had been in the habit of charging $4 or $5 a car, equivalent on the average loading to two cents per hundred pounds. On an application by the company to the Interstate Commerce Commission, it was held, on May 15, 1905 (11 I.C.C. 90), that such charge was an excessive and unreasonable charge, and that one-half thereof was sufficient. Upon that basis, it awarded to the hay and grain company the sum
of $1,572.08, one-half the sum paid theretofore by it to the railway company. This sum not being paid, the hay and grain company, on January 23, 1906, filed its petition in the United States Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Illinois to recover the amount thus awarded, with interest, and also for an attorney's fee. A trial resulted on June 25, 1906, in a judgment in favor of the hay and grain company for the amount awarded by the Commission, with interest thereon, and also for $350 as an attorney's fee. 149 F. 609. On error to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the judgment of the circuit court was, on April 16, 1907, affirmed, 153 F. 728, whereupon the case was brought here on error.