Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. United States
277 U.S. 291 (1928)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. United States, 277 U.S. 291 (1928)

Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. United States

No. 404

Argued April 11, 1928

Decided May 21, 1928

277 U.S. 291

Syllabus

1. Western railroads with termini at St. Louis (the "west-side" roads) exchanged traffic with railroads east of the Mississippi (the "east-side" roads) by means of a terminal company owned jointly or controlled by appellants and appellees. (See Terminal R. Co. Assn. v. United States,266 U. S. 17.) In order to meet the competition on through freight of the Chicago and Alton and other western railroads which reached East St. Louis by means of independent crossings, the "west-side" roads had long made the same rates on that point as on St. Louis, absorbing the Terminal's transfer charges on west-bound as well as east-bound traffic. The "east-side" roads bore no part of such charges, and where, as in most cases, their St. Louis and East St. Louis rates were the same, they were limited by appropriate tariff provisions

Page 277 U. S. 292

to East St. Louis as applied to through traffic moving on combination rates. On complaint of the "west-side" roads, the Interstate Commerce Commission ordered the "east-side" roads in the future to bear or absorb all the transfer charges on all westbound traffic moving on combination rates, which were the same on St. Louis as on East St. Louis, holding the existing arrangement to be an unjust and unreasonable "practice" under § 1(6) and (11) and § 15(1) of the Act to Regulate Commerce, although there was no question concerning the furnishing of facilities or the handling of traffic, and no proof that the complainants justly should not bear the burden of transfer in both directions, like their competitors. Held, that the order could not be sustained. Pp. 277 U. S. 294-302.

2. The term "practice" in the Act to Regulate Commerce, owing to its wide and variable connotations, should be confined to acts or things belonging to the same general class as those meant by the words associated with it in the statute. P. 277 U. S. 299.

3. Semble that "practice," as used in § 1(6), (11), and § 15(1) of the Act, does not include or refer to the method or basis used by connecting carriers for the division of revenues, whether the revenues be derived from joint rates or from combination through rates. P. 277 U. S. 300.

4. Even if the above-described arrangement by which the "west-side" roads bear the transfer charges on west-bound as well as east-bound through traffic moving on combination rates were a "practice," the Commission would not be authorized to set it aside without adequate evidence that it is unjust or unreasonable. Id.

5. Proof of a practice among carriers whereby the delivering carrier bears the cost of switching when interchange is effected by means of an intermediate carrier did not tend to prove that the arrangement complained of in this case was unjust or unreasonable. P. 277 U. S. 301.

6. In determining the reasonableness of the apportionment of revenues derived from combination rates, the same considerations apply as govern the divisions of joint rates under § 15(6) of the Act. Id.

Reversed.

Appeal from a decree of the district court dismissing, for want of equity, a suit to set aside an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Page 277 U. S. 293

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