American Toll Bridge Co. v. Railroad Comm'n
307 U.S. 486 (1939)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

American Toll Bridge Co. v. Railroad Comm'n, 307 U.S. 486 (1939)

American Toll Bridge Co. v. Railroad Commission of California

No. 704

Argued April 21, 1939

Decided June 5, 1939

307 U.S. 486

Syllabus

1. Provisions of the California Political Code requiring county supervisors when granting a toll bridge franchise to fix tolls which must not raise annually an income exceeding 15 percent. of a specified base, and providing that tolls shall not be increased or diminished unless it be shown that the receipts from them in any one year are "disproportionate" to the base, cannot be construed to mean that tolls shall not be reduced unless they yield in excess of the 15 percent. P. 307 U. S. 488.

2. A toll bridge company was notified that an investigation of the operation of its bridge would extend to the tolls. It was accorded and accepted opportunity to introduce evidence, and submitted its case for decision without request for findings or argument. The state commission, in reducing tolls, filed a decision sufficiently indicating the facts on which it made the order. In its petitions for rehearing and for judicial review, the company, though setting forth other objections specifically, did not claim that procedural due process had been denied by the commission. Held, that there is no basis for asserting the claim in this Court. Morgan v. United States,304 U. S. 1, is not in point. P. 307 U. S. 492.

3. A company owning two bridges objected to regulation of the tolls on one without including the other, claiming that they were parts of the same system but competing, and that reduction of tolls on the one would force reduction on the other.

Held:

(1) That determination of the proper unit was in the first instance for the rate-fixing commission. P. 307 U. S. 494.

(2) As the other bridge is not used or useful in rendering any of the service covered by the tolls under investigation, and the duty to operate the one is independent of the duty to operate the other, the claim that the commission, in confining its regulation to the one bridge, abused its discretion and denied procedural due process is without foundation. P. 307 U. S. 494.

4. Where an order reducing bridge tolls extended only to automobiles and passengers, leaving intact the tolls for other classes of traffic, a claim that the reduction was confiscatory was not established by proof that the revenues as a whole from all of the traffic

Page 307 U. S. 487

were inadequate; there must be allocation or apportionment, to the traffic covered by the reduced tolls, of operating expenses, cost of depreciation, taxes, sinking fund contributions, property values, etc., fairly attributable to the service covered by the order. P. 307 U. S. 494.

12 Cal.2d 184, 83 P.2d 1, affirmed.

Appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court of California upholding an order of the State Railroad Commission which reduced in part the tolls charged for use of one of the appellant's bridges.

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