Lewis-Simas-Jones Co. v. Southern Pacific Co. - 283 U.S. 654 (1931)


U.S. Supreme Court

Lewis-Simas-Jones Co. v. Southern Pacific Co., 283 U.S. 654 (1931)

Lewis-Simas-Jones Co. v. Southern Pacific Co.

No. 520

Argued April 28, 29, 1931

Decided May 25, 1931

283 U.S. 654

Syllabus

1. The Interstate Commerce Act applies to so much only of the transportation of a through shipment from a foreign country as take place in this country. P. 283 U. S. 660.

Page 283 U. S. 655

2. Where it is alleged that the joint through rate exacted for such a shipment was unreasonable and was charged in violation of the Act, the Commission has jurisdiction to entertain the complaint, and, if it finds that the through charge was unreasonable, and if no other and reasonable rate for the service performed by the American carrier was available to the shipper, it may award reparation for the resulting damage. News Syndicate Co. v. New York Central R. Co., 275 U. S. 179. Pp. 283 U. S. 659, 283 U. S. 662.

3. The collection by a common carrier of exorbitant charges is a tort, and the general rule as to liability of joint tortfeasors applies where two or more connecting carriers combine to impose excessive charges over their connecting lines. P. 283 U. S. 660.

4. Where a carrier in this country joins with a foreign carrier in exacting an excessive through rate for an international shipment, while offering no reasonable rate for the domestic part of the service, it is liable for the damage to a shipper without regard to the proportion of the charges attributable to the foreign transportation or paid to the foreign carrier. P. 283 U. S. 660.

5. A prior finding by the Commission that the rate charged was unreasonable and of the amount overcharged is a condition precedent to an action for reparation, but the action is not based on the Commission's award, as such. P. 283 U. S. 660.

6. In the case of an unreasonable joint international rate, the demand for reparation is grounded upon the claim that the maintenance of that rate, participated in by the American carrier, and its violation of the Act in failing to maintain a just and reasonable rate for the transportation from the boundary to destination, operated to compel payment of the charges based on the excessive joint rate. P. 283 U. S. 661.

7. To a claim based on an unreasonable charge for a through international carload shipment, it is not a defense that the American carrier offered a separate reasonable rate from the international boundary if the separate rate was not applicable to the through carload as brought by the foreign carrier, but only to shipments originating at the boundary and involving extra terminal service there. P. 283 U. S. 663.

106 Cal.App. 437, 289 P. 643, reversed.

Certiorari, 282 U.S. 833, to review a judgment which affirmed the dismissal of an action for damages caused by the exaction of excessive freight charges.

Page 283 U. S. 656



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