Insurance Group Committee v. Denver & R.G.W. R. Co.
329 U.S. 607 (1947)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Insurance Group Committee v. Denver & R.G.W. R. Co., 329 U.S. 607 (1947)

Insurance Group Committee v.

Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad Co.

No. 690. Argued January 6, 1947

Decided February 3, 1947

329 U.S. 607

Syllabus

After confirmation of a plan for reorganization of a railroad under § 77 of the Bankruptcy Act had been affirmed by this Court, 328 U. S. 495, the debtor moved in the District Court for a reexamination of the plan in the light of circumstances which had changed since the Interstate Commerce Commission's hearings on the plan. The debtor specified three categories of changed conditions: (a) The decline in money rates to a level far below the rates prevailing at the time of the Commission's hearings, (b) the recent purchase by private capital for private operation of a steel plant which had been constructed by the Government during the war in the area served by the railroad, and (c) a permanent elevation of the national income through intensified industrial activity involving for the indefinite future a greatly increased demand for railway transportation. The debtor prayed that, upon reexamination, the District Court set aside its orders approving and confirming the plan and refer the proceeding back to the Interstate Commerce Commission for the formulation of a new plan.

Held:

1. Reexamination would not be justified in this case, because the debtor has failed to allege the existence, since this Court's decision affirming the confirmation of the plan, of changed conditions of a kind not envisaged and considered by the Commission in its deliberations upon or explanations of the plan. P. 329 U. S. 611.

2. This Court having ruled in its prior decision that, in this reorganization, no changed circumstances, up to that date, presented to it by the debtor or other respondents in that review justified a reexamination of the plan as confirmed, that ruling was binding on the District Court and the Circuit Court of Appeals as to changed circumstances arising after the order of confirmation and prior to the decision of this Court. P. 329 U. S. 612.

3. While power rests in a federal court that passes an order or decision to change its position on a subsequent review in the same cause, orderly judicial action, except in unusual circumstances, requires

Page 329 U. S. 608

it to refuse to permit the relitigation of matters or issues previously determined on a former review. P. 329 U. S. 612.

4. The changed conditions relied upon by the debtor in support of its motion for reexamination of the plan have been considered or anticipated heretofore by the Commission, the District Court, the Circuit Court of Appeals, and this Court. Pp. 329 U. S. 613-617.

5. Until it can be contended with some show of reasonableness that creditors senior to the creditors and stockholders whom the debtor represents here have received more in value than the face of their claims, the debtor's insistence on a reexamination of the plan is without substantial support. P. 329 U. S. 618.

6. While allegations of a petition for reexamination into a confirmed railroad reorganization plan need not contain allegations of the primary facts, they should allege ultimate facts, such as sales and values of securities or improved earnings, sufficient to indicate the factual basis for a reexamination, and such facts have not been alleged here. Pp. 329 U. S. 618-619.

7. To open a confirmed plan of railroad reorganization, assuming the power to do so, accepted after years of consideration, requires a showing by allegation of injustice to the complaining debtor or junior creditors far stronger than any made here. P. 329 U. S. 619.

8. The record affirmatively shows a proper basis for the valuation and allocation of securities by the Commission, and fails to show any sound basis for a reexamination on account of changed circumstances between the date of the Commission's hearings and the date of this Court's prior decision. P. 329 U. S. 619.

9. As to the period since this Court's prior decision, there is no basis in the record or in anything judicially known to this Court for a conclusion that there has been a significant change in interest rates, earnings available for interest, or traffic. P. 329 U. S. 620.

10. The action of Congress in passing a bill pertaining to railroad reorganizations, which was vetoed by the President, does not require a stay to await further enactments that might affect this reorganization, since this Court does not know whether any changes will be enacted, and must continue to act under existing law. P. 329 U. S. 620.

11. The public interest in what persons or corporations hold in the future a controlling voice in the management of this railroad has already been considered and protected by the Commission. P. 329 U. S. 620.

12. Nothing before or since the confirmation of this plan indicates any disregard by the Commission or the courts of the interests of operators, stockholders, creditors, or the public. Pp. 329 U. S. 620-621.

Order denying petition affirmed.

Page 329 U. S. 609

After confirmation of a plan for reorganization of a railroad under § 77 of the Bankruptcy Act had been affirmed by this Court, 328 U. S. 495 (rehearing denied, 329 U.S. 824), the debtor moved in the District Court for a reexamination of the plan in the light of circumstances which had changed since the Interstate Commerce Commission's hearings on the plan (254 I.C.C. 6). The District Court dismissed the petition. The debtor appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals, and a Judge of that Court issued an order staying proceedings in the District Court to consummate the plan. Under Judicial Code § 240(a), this Court granted a writ of certiorari before judgment in the Circuit Court of Appeals. 329 U.S. 708. The order of the Circuit Judge directing a stay of the consummation of the plan is vacated, and the order of the District Judge denying the petition is affirmed, p. 329 U. S. 621.

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