Pure Oil Co. v. Minnesota
248 U.S. 158 (1918)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Pure Oil Co. v. Minnesota, 248 U.S. 158 (1918)

Pure Oil Company v. Minnesota

No. 74

Argued November 21, 22, 1918

Decided December 9, 1918

248 U.S. 158




For the purpose of promoting the public safety and of protecting the public from fraud and imposition, a state, in the absence of conflicting regulation by Congress, may provide for inspection of illuminating

Page 248 U. S. 159

oils and gasoline while yet in interstate transit, and impose a charge upon the owner reasonably sufficient to cover the cost of inspection. P. 248 U. S. 161.

Such inspection charges, fixed by a state legislature, are accepted as reasonable unless clearly shown to be obviously and largely beyond what is needed to pay for the inspection service rendered. P. 248 U. S. 163.

Where the receipts from inspection fees through a number of years considerably exceeded the cost of inspection, but this was explained by increasing consumption of the product inspected, and the legislature during the period reduced the fee, held that there was no ground to question the good faith of the legislature in enacting the law under which the fees were charged. P. 248 U. S. 164.

Upon the question whether an inspection of gasoline served to promote public safety and protect against fraud and imposition, concurrent findings of state trial and supreme courts held conclusive. Id.

Whether oil and gasoline, imported into a state in tank cars, continued to be subjects of interstate commerce while awaiting state inspection at the owner's place of business before they were unloaded and held for general ale and distribution not decided. Id.

134 Minn. 101 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

MR. JUSTICE CLARKE delivered the opinion of the Court.

In this case, the State of Minnesota sued the plaintiff in error, an extensive dealer in oils, to recover fees which were charged for the inspection of oils and gasoline between February 1, 1913, and April 25, 1915. The judgment of the state supreme court affirming that of the trial court in favor of the state is before us for review on writ of error.

Page 248 U. S. 160

The inspection involved was provided for by chapter 502 of the General Laws of the State of Minnesota for the year 1909, the title of which is:

"An Act relating to the inspection of petroleum products, the appointment of chief inspector of oils and deputy inspectors, manner of inspection, establishing fees for inspection and salaries of inspectors, prohibiting the sale of adulterated oils, and providing penalties for violation thereof,"

and the title of the chapter in which the original act is embodied in the general statutes of the state is "Inspection of Oils." Gen.Stats. of Minnesota, 1913, c. 20.

Section 3622 provides that no person shall sell or offer for sale in the state illuminating oil which has not been inspected as provided for by the act, or which will ignite at a temperature below 120

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