El Dorado Oil Works v. United States
328 U.S. 12 (1946)

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U.S. Supreme Court

El Dorado Oil Works v. United States, 328 U.S. 12 (1946)

El Dorado Oil Works v. United States

No. 428

Argued January 30 and March 26, 1946

Decided April 22, 1946

328 U.S. 12

APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

Syllabus

A shipper who rented tank cars for transporting its products in interstate commerce brought suit in the District Court against the car company for the amount by which allowances received by the car company from carriers for use of the cars exceeded the rental. This Court, in General American Tank Car Corp. v. El Dorado Terminal Co.,308 U. S. 422, ordered the District Court to stay its hand until the Interstate Commerce Commission could determine the administrative problems involved. In response to a petition of the shipper, the Commission found that an allowance to the shipper in excess of the rental would be unjust, unreasonable, and unlawful, and ordered the proceeding before it discontinued.

Held: 1. The action of the Commission was a reviewable "order," and a suit to enjoin or set it aside was within the jurisdiction of a District Court of three judges. 28 U.S.C. §§ 41(28), 47. P. 328 U. S. 18.

2. The Commission's determination as to what constituted a just and reasonable allowance to the shipper was valid although it related to past transactions. P. 328 U. S. 19.

Page 328 U. S. 13

(a) The Commission made its determination as to the lawfulness of the past practice upon the application of the shipper. P. 328 U. S. 19.

(b) The determination of the Commission was authorized by the decision of this Court in the Tank Car case, as well as by the Interstate Commerce Act. P. 328 U. S. 19.

(c) The Commission was not required in this proceeding to establish uniform rates for the future for all shippers. P. 328 U. S. 20.

3. The finding of the Commission that the allowance to this shipper were unjust and unreasonable was based on uniform treatment of all shipper-lessees, whom the Commission was justified in treating as a class apart. P. 328 U. S. 20.

4. It is the duty of the Commission to abolish all practices which result in rebates or preferences. P. 328 U. S. 21.

5. The fact that the freight was paid by the consignee at the regular rate does not preclude the finding that the practices here in question involved rebates or preferences to the shipper which are prohibited by the Interstate Commerce Act and the Elkins Act. P. 328 U. S. 22.

59 F.Supp. 738 affirmed.

Appellants' suit to set aside an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission, 258 I.C.C. 371, was dismissed by a District Court of three judges for want of jurisdiction, 59 F.Supp. 738, and appellants appealed to this Court. Affirmed on other grounds, p. 328 U. S. 22.

Page 328 U. S. 14

MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.

Appellants filed a complaint in the district court under 28 U.S.C. § 47a, challenging action taken by the Interstate Commerce Commission allegedly pursuant to instructions contained in an earlier opinion rendered by this Court in connection with these proceedings. General American Tank Car Corp. v. El Dorado Terminal Co.,308 U. S. 422. The district court dismissed the complaint for want of jurisdiction on the ground that the Commission's action did not amount to a reviewable "order" within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 41(28). The case is before us on direct appeal. 28 U.S.C. § 345.

The following facts constitute the background of this proceeding:

El Dorado Oil Works, one of the appellants, processes, sells, and ships coconut oil in interstate commerce. Special kinds of tank cars are necessary for that distribution. The appellee, General American Tank Car corporation, [Footnote 1] owns tank cars which it rents and leases to various shippers. In 1933, Oil Works made a contract with the Car Company to rent, for a period of three years, fifty tank cars at $27.50 per month, and such additional cars as it might need at $30 per month. The outstanding railroad tariffs, prescribing payment by the railroad of 1 1/2

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