Superior Water, Light & Power Co. v. City of Superior - 263 U.S. 125 (1923)


U.S. Supreme Court

Superior Water, Light & Power Co. v. City of Superior, 263 U.S. 125 (1923)

Superior Water, Light & Power Co. v. City of Superior

No. 57

Argued October 9, 1923

Decided November 12, 1923

263 U.S. 125

Syllabus

1. Where a municipality, with express power from the legislature, enters into a contract whereby, in consideration of the construction, maintenance, and operation of a water system by a water company, it grants the company the exclusive right to maintain and operate for a specified period and agrees to extend the term when it expires or to purchase the entire plant at a price to be determined by capitalizing the net earnings of the year preceding the purchase, the rights acquired by the company are rights of property which are not subject, under the Constitution, to be impaired by subsequent legislation attempting to substitute for the company's franchises an "indeterminate permit" to continue in force until the municipality shall elect to purchase upon terms to be fixed by a state commission. P. 263 U. S. 135.

Page 263 U. S. 126

2. A power to alter or repeal incorporation acts, reserved by state constitution, will not be held applicable to property rights of a corporation acquired by contract with a city when not clearly so construed by state decision antedating the contract. Id.

174 Wis. 257; 176 id. 626, reversed.

Error to a judgment of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin for the city in a suit by the Water Company to restrain the city from condemning the company's plant, and praying specific performance of the city's contract to purchase it or extend the company's franchise.



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