Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co. v. United States - 250 U.S. 556 (1919)


U.S. Supreme Court

Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co. v. United States, 250 U.S. 556 (1919)

Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company v. United States

No. 38

Argued October 14, 1919

Decided November 10, 1919

250 U.S. 556

Syllabus

Under a covenant in a long lease of its railroad properties, made in 1871 by the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company to the Central Railroad of New Jersey, a connecting carrier, the coal of the Lehigh Company was transported from its mines in Pennsylvania to New Jersey points at rates less than were charged by the Central on coal from other mines of the same region; the allowance was indicated in all tariffs (262 in number) filed by the Central in and after the year of the Hepburn Act (1906), by a note not specifying it in figures but referring to the lease and covenant, and for receiving such allowances in the years 1912-1915, the Lehigh Company was indicted for knowingly receiving rebates or concessions whereby the coal was transported at a less rate than that named in the tariffs, in violation of the Elkins Act as amended by the Hepburn Act (c. 3591, 34 Stat. 584). Discrimination was not charged. Held that the defendant was entitled to prove that it received such allowances in the honest belief that they were sufficiently described in and justified under the tariffs, such belief having been based on advice given the defendant when the tariff description was first formulated, upon the acceptance without objection by the Interstate Commerce Commission of the numerous tariffs containing it, upon information from the carrier, in 1908, that the form was specifically approved by the Commission through its officer in charge of tariffs, and upon the fact that the Commission, in 1909, was informed through an examination of defendant's records and books of the receipt of such allowances, and did not object. P. 250 U. S. 562. Armour Packing Co. v. United States, 209 U. S. 56, distinguished.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 250 U. S. 559



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