Northern Ohio Traction & Light Co. v. Ohio - 245 U.S. 574 (1918)
U.S. Supreme Court
Northern Ohio Traction & Light Co. v. Ohio, 245 U.S. 574 (1918)
Northern Ohio Traction & Light Company v. Ohio
Argued October 18, 19, 1917
Decided January 28, 1918
245 U.S. 574
Where there are no controlling provisions in state constitution or statutes and no prior adjudication by its courts to the contrary, a franchise for an interurban electric railway, granted by the proper state
authority without limit as to duration, and in the absence of circumstances showing an intention to give or accept a mere revocable right, is a contract not subject to annulment at the will of the granting authority.
Under the Constitution and statutes of Ohio in 1892, county Commissioners had power to grant franchises over public roads valid for twenty-five years, if not perpetually.
A resolution of county commissioners purporting to revoke an electric railway franchise, and treated by the state court as having that effect, amounts to state action, and, the franchise not being so revocable, such resolution impairs its obligation, and is void.
Upon renew of a judgment erroneously treating a franchise as revocable at the will of a board of county commissioners and upholding the board's resolution purporting to revoke it, the court is not called upon to determine whether the franchise term has since expired by limitation, or whether the state legislature (which has not acted) may have reserved power to revoke or repeal the franchise.
93 Ohio St. 46 reversed.
The case is stated in the opinion.