Missouri Pacific R. Co. v. Boone
270 U.S. 466 (1926)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Missouri Pacific R. Co. v. Boone, 270 U.S. 466 (1926)

Missouri Pacific Railroad Company v. Boone

No. 203

Argued January 29, 1926

Decided March 22, 1926

270 U.S. 466

Syllabus

1. A construction of a statute which makes its constitutionality doubtful is to be avoided if possible. P. 270 U. S. 471.

2. Section 208(a) of the Transportation Act, 1920, provided (1) that all rates, fares and charges, and all classifications, regulations and practices in any wise changing, affecting, or determining any part or the aggregate of rates, fares or charges, or the value of the service rendered which, on February 29, 1920, were in effect on lines of carriers subject to the Interstate Commerce Act, should continue in force until "thereafter" changed by state or federal authority, or pursuant to authority of law; (2) that, prior to September 1, 1920, no such rate, fare, or charge should be reduced, and no regulation, etc., should be changed in such manner as to reduce any such rate, etc., unless such reduction or change were approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Held:

(1) That a provision in a baggage tariff filed by the Director General of Railroads during federal control limiting liability for misdelivery of baggage is within the purview of this section. P. 270 U. S. 468.

(2) The primary purpose of the second clause was, by safeguarding rates, to protect the United States from liability on its six months' guaranty of a "standard return" to carriers when released from federal control. P. 270 U. S. 472.

(3) The purpose of the first clause was to remove doubts as to what tariffs were to be applicable after termination of federal control by declaring that the existing tariffs, largely initiated by the Director General, should be deemed operative except insofar as changed after February 29, 1920, pursuant to law. Pp. 270 U. S. 472, 270 U. S. 475.

(4) Where a tariff of the Director General limiting liability for misdelivery of baggage had suspended the operation of a state statute making the carrier liable for the full value, the effect of the first clause of § 208(a) was that the statute became again applicable, without reenactment, after February 29, 1920, so that the damages recoverable by an intrastate passenger for the loss

Page 270 U. S. 467

of trunk after September 1, 1920, were governed by the state statute. P. 270 U. S. 476.

263 S.W. (Mo.) 495 affirmed.

Certiorari to a judgment of the St. Louis Court of Appeals affirming a judgment against the railroad for the full value of baggage which it failed to deliver to Boone, an intrastate passenger.

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