Pacific Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Kuykendall
265 U.S. 196 (1924)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Pacific Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Kuykendall, 265 U.S. 196 (1924)

Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company v. Kuykendall

Nos. 540 and 789

Argued April 17, 1924

Decided May 26, 1924

265 U.S. 196

Syllabus

1. When the jurisdiction of a state court to review orders of a Commission fixing rates is confined to determining on the record certified by the Commission whether the order is lawful and reasonable and whether evidence was improperly excluded, without power to pass on the weight or sufficiency of evidence or to enter any new order in lieu of the one appealed from, the remedy is purely judicial, and need not be invoked by a party complaining of the rates fixed as confiscatory, before seeking relief in a federal court. Remington's Comp. Washington Stat. 1922, § 10428, considered. P. 265 U. S. 200.

2. A state statute empowering a Commission, after hearing, to refuse an increase of rates proposed by a public utility cannot, by forbidding supersedeas until a final judicial decree has been rendered in the state courts, prevent recourse to a federal court for temporary relief by injunction. P. 265 U. S. 201.

3. Under the law of Washington, Rem.Comp.Stat. 1922, § 10441, providing for revision of administrative valuations of the property of public utilities, the function of the state courts is not merely judicial, but also legislative, since they can pass upon the weight of evidence, and can set aside a valuation and make a new one. Keller v. Potomac Co.,261 U. S. 428. Id.

4. The fact that a public utility had resorted to the state courts, acting legislatively, to change a valuation of its property, would not bar it from seeking relief in the federal court against rates based on the valuation as approved by the state courts. P. 265 U. S. 203

Page 265 U. S. 197

5. Comity usually prevents seeking such relief in a federal court before the legislative remedy in the state courts has been exhausted. Prentis v. Atlantic Coast Line Co.,211 U. S. 210. P. 265 U. S. 203.

6. But when a public utility, by reason of an order reinstating rates which it sought to increase, is suffering daily from confiscation, and under the state law (Rem.Comp.Stat. 1922, § 10429) no stay is allowable pending revision by the state courts, comity does not prevent relief by a federal court. P. 265 U. S. 204.

7. A litigant whose constitutional rights are being invaded and to whom a statute denies a supersedeas in the state tribunals may properly base his application for equitable relief on the effect of the statute and the presumption of its validity, and is not required to establish that the state statute is not invalid under the state constitution. Dawson v. Kentucky Distilleries Co.,255 U. S. 288. P. 265 U. S. 205.

8. Where appeal from an order refusing an interlocutory injunction is followed by an appeal from a final decree dismissing the bill on the same ground, the first appeal should be dismissed and relief be granted under the second. Id.

Reversed.

Appeals from decrees of the district court refusing an interlocutory injunction and dismissing the bill, in a suit to enjoin interference with increases of telephone rates.

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