Columbus Railway Co. v. Columbus
249 U.S. 399 (1919)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Columbus Railway Co. v. Columbus, 249 U.S. 399 (1919)

Columbus Railway, Power & Light Company v. Columbus

No. 715

Argued January 10, 1919

Decided April 14, 1919

249 U.S. 399

Syllabus

Constitutional questions not devoid of merit suffice as a basis for jurisdiction in the district court, however they may be decided. P. 249 U. S. 406.

Ordinances passed by the City of Columbus under authority of certain laws of Ohio and accepted by street railway companies held contracts, binding the grantees to furnish street railway service for twenty-five years at specified rates in return for the use of the streets, and not permissive franchises which the grantees might surrender when they ceased to be remunerative. P. 249 U. S. 407.

If a party charge himself with an obligation possible to be performed, he

Page 249 U. S. 400

must abide by it unless performance becomes impossible through the act of God, the law, or the other party. P. 249 U. S. 412.

An unexpected hardship may be considered in determining the scope of a contract obligation provided the contract is doubtful and requires construction. P. 249 U. S. 410.

Where a street car company was under a clear contract obligation to furnish service at specified rates of fare, and various effects of the war, particularly an award of the War Labor Board raising the wages of employees, wrought a serious and unforeseen change of conditions, making the rates grossly inadequate, but it did not appear that performance was thus rendered impossible or that the contract as a whole, for its ten of twenty-five year, would prove unremunerative, held that there was no vis major excusing further performance, and that enforcement of the agreed rate would not deprive the company of property without due process of law. P. 249 U. S. 413.

Equity cannot relieve from bad bargains simply because they are such. P. 249 U. S. 414.

253 F. 499 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 249 U. S. 401

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