Public Service Comm'n v. Brashear Freight Lines, Inc. - 312 U.S. 621 (1941)


U.S. Supreme Court

Public Service Comm'n v. Brashear Freight Lines, Inc., 312 U.S. 621 (1941)

Public Service Commission of Missouri v. Brashear Freight Lines, Inc.

No. 549

Argued March 10, 1941

Decided March 31, 1941

312 U.S. 621

Syllabus

1. A motion to assess damages in a case under Jud.Code § 266 in which an injunction has been dissolved and the bill dismissed should be determined by the District Court in the exercise of its ordinary jurisdiction, without participation by the two additional judges. P. 312 U. S. 625.

2. A judgment of the District Court dismissing a motion to assess damages in a case decided by the court of three judges (Jud.Code § 266) is not invalidated by the fact that the two additional judges took part in its consideration, and, though not appealable directly to this Court, it is reviewable by the Circuit Court of Appeals, whose action upon it may in turn be reviewed here on certiorari. P. 312 U. S. 626.

3. In a suit by numerous carriers by truck to enjoin state officials from enforcing a state statute imposing license fees, wherein the District Court, in dissolving an injunction and dismissing the bill, had dismissed, without hearing its merits, a counterclaim for the license fees owing by the several plaintiffs, the dismissal having been based upon a doubt of the right of the defendants to maintain such a counterclaim and having been made without prejudice to any right to maintain an independent suit or suits thereon -- held, that the ruling was not decisive of the right of defendants to obtain by motion at the end of the litigation an assessment of damages caused by the injunction, and costs. P. 312 U. S. 626.

4. The plaintiffs having prevented collection of lawful license fees on behalf of the State of Missouri through an injunction obtained in a suit against the State's Attorney General, its Public Service Commission, and other public agencies, charging that the fees were unconstitutional and that the defendants threatened to collect them, and many of the plaintiffs having failed before the injunction was dissolved to deposit the fees falling due from them, as required by the injunction order and their injunction bonds, held:

(1) That the plaintiffs have no standing to resist a motion for assessment of damages upon the ground that the statutory power

Page 312 U. S. 622

to collect such fees is lodged in the State Treasurer, who was not a party to the suit. P. 312 U. S. 627.

(2) Whoever has the power in Missouri to collect such license fees, the Attorney General has exclusive authority to bring suits in the name and on behalf of the State. P. 312 U. S. 627.

(3) The defendant officials and agencies were proper parties to invoke an assessment of damages on behalf of the State. P. 312 U. S. 628.

(4) The District Court, sitting in equity, has power to see that whatever sums are recovered go to the proper state officials. P. 312 U. S. 628.

5. The District Court abused its discretion in refusing to assess damages in the injunction suit, thus remitting the State and its officials to many actions at law against the plaintiffs, some of them possibly in other States, and giving rise to serious problems in the apportionment of damages, including costs and expenses of litigation. P. 312 U. S. 630.

It is especially fitting that equity exert its full strength in order to protect from loss a State which has been injured by reason of a suspension of enforcement of state laws imposed by equity itself.

114 F.2d 1 reversed.

Certiorari, 311 U.S. 642, to review a decree which affirmed the District Court's denial of a motion to assess damages and costs in an injunction suit.



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