Missouri Pacific Ry. Co. v. Tucker - 230 U.S. 340 (1913)


U.S. Supreme Court

Missouri Pacific Ry. Co. v. Tucker, 230 U.S. 340 (1913)

Missouri Pacific Railway Company v. Tucker

No. 52

Submitted November 14, 1912

Decided June 16, 1913

230 U.S. 340

Syllabus

To require a railroad company to charge such rates for transportation as prevent it from obtaining a reasonable return for the service rendered amounts to deprivation of property without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and is beyond the power of the state. Atlantic Coast Line v. North Carolina Commission, 206 U. S. 1.

Rates that a railroad company may charge for transportation as fixed by the legislation of a state are presumptively valid, but not conclusively so, and the company is entitled to have the question of whether the prescribed rates are confiscatory and therefore deprive it of its property without due process of law determined in appropriate judicial proceedings.

A common carrier is not at liberty to accept or decline shipments of lawful merchandise, but must accept them and name to the shipper the rate of transportation.

While it may be within the power of the state to impose double or treble damages on a carrier for overcharging transportation rates, it is beyond its power to impose a fixed amount as liquidated damages in every case regardless of, and as a general rule many times in excess of, the actual damages. To do so would deprive the carrier of its property without due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

A state statute which does not permit a carrier to have the question of sufficiency of rates determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, and which imposes such conditions upon the appeal for judicial relief as works an abandonment of the right, rather than face those conditions, is unconstitutional as depriving the carrier of its property without due process of law. Ex Parte Young, 209 U. S. 123, 209 U. S. 147.

That part of the statute of Kansas of 1905 establishing maximum rates for transportation of oil, gasoline, etc., which fixes $500 as liquidated damages in favor of the shipper for any excess charge regardless of the amount thereof, is so arbitrary and oppressive as to render it

Page 230 U. S. 341

unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment as taking the property of the carriers without due process of law.

82 Kan 222 reversed.

The facts, which involve the constitutionality under the Fourteenth Amendment of the statute of 1905 of the State of Kansas establishing maximum rates for transportation of oil, gasoline, etc., which fixes five hundred dollars as liquidated damages for violations of the act, are stated in the opinion.

Page 230 U. S. 346



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