Pittsburgh & West Virginia Ry. Co. v. United States
281 U.S. 479 (1930)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Pittsburgh & West Virginia Ry. Co. v. United States, 281 U.S. 479 (1930)

Pittsburgh & West Virginia Ry. Co. v. United States

No. 680

Argued April 15, 1930

Decided May 19, 1930

281 U.S. 479

Syllabus

1. The fact that a railway company intervened before the Interstate Commerce Commission to oppose the granting to another railway company of a certificate of public convenience and necessity permitting the latter to abandon one of its stations and to use instead the facilities of a terminal established by other carriers gives the intervening

Page 281 U. S. 480

company no standing to bring an independent suit under the Urgent Deficiencies Act of October 22, 1913, to set aside the order of the Commission granting the certificate in the absence of resulting actual or threatened legal injury to such complainant. P. 281 U. S. 486.

2. An independent standing to bring such a suit cannot be based upon the fact that the lines of the complaining carrier connect with those of the carrier to which the certificate is granted where the connection is remote from the point to which the certificate relates and there is no suggestion that the order can affect the complainant as a carrier. Id.

3. An independent standing to bring such a suit cannot be grounded upon the proposition that, by acting upon the certificate, the carrier to which it is granted may, through future regulation of the rates of the terminal, incur liabilities threatening to its financial stability and consequently threatening to the financial interest of the complainant as a minority stockholder of such carrier. P. 281 U. S. 487.

4. A railway company, as a minority stockholder of another which, pursuant to a certificate granted by the Interstate Commerce Commission, was about to abandon one of its stations and avail itself of other terminal facilities under contracts with other carriers, filed a bill in the district court, joining the United States, the Commission, the grantee of the certificate and the other carriers as defendants and praying (1) that the order granting the certificate be set aside; (2) that the company holding the certificate be enjoined from abandoning its station and performing its contracts upon the ground that its directors held office illegally and, in making the contracts and applying for the certificate, were guilty of a breach of trust and violated the rights of stockholders under the state law.

Held:

(1) That relief on the second ground, not being ancillary to nor dependent upon the judgment as to the order of the Commission, may not be included in a bill before three judges to set the order aside, but is appropriate only to a suit invoking the plenary equity jurisdiction of the district court and to be heard in ordinary course by a single judge. The Chicago Junction Case,264 U. S. 258, distinguished. P. 281 U. S. 488.

(2) The decree of the district court as to such general equitable relief is not reviewable in this Court on direct appeal. Id.

(3) Grounds for general equitable relief cannot give standing in this Court on direct appeal under the Urgent Deficiencies Act to a plaintiff who had no right to bring the suit under that Act. Id.

Page 281 U. S. 481

5. A decree dismissing on the merits a bill which should have been dismissed for want of standing in the plaintiff to sue affirmed without prejudice to enforcement of the plaintiff's rights in a proper proceeding. P. 281 U. S. 489.

41 F.2d 806 affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of the district court dismissing a bill to annul an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission and for other equitable relief. The three-judge court was of opinion that the grounds of complaint beyond the attack on the order were not properly before it, but, since diversity of citizenship existed and the district judge concurred in the decree, it passed on them and reserved to appellant the right (of which it did not avail itself) to sever those issues for purposes of appeal and treat its decision on them as the decision of a single judge.

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