ICC v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co.
383 U.S. 576 (1966)

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U.S. Supreme Court

ICC v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 383 U.S. 576 (1966)

Interstate Commerce Commission v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co.

No. 14

Argued December 6, 1965

Decided March 22, 1966

383 U.S. 576

Syllabus

Upon a complaint by Thomson Phosphate Company, the ICC found that rates on shipments by Thomson on respondent railroads were unjust and unreasonable, and that the shipper was entitled to reparations. The respondents refused to certify Thomson's statements showing shipments made, and then the ICC determined the amount of reparations due and entered an order directing payment. Respondents refused to comply, and brought this suit in the District Court for the Middle District of Florida under §17(9) of the Interstate Commerce Act to enjoin and annul the ICC orders. Thereafter, Thomson brought suit under §16(2) of the Act in the District Court for the Southern District of New York to enforce the ICC's reparation order, but that suit was stayed pending disposition of the carrier-initiated action. The District Court in Florida denied the ICC's motion to dismiss which alleged that the carriers' sole remedy was to defend the suit brought by the shipper under §16(2). The court set aside the ICC order on the ground that Thomson's claim was barred by the statute of limitations. The Court of Appeals sustained the District Court's jurisdiction, and affirmed.

Held: carriers may obtain full review of ICC reparation orders by defending actions brought by shippers under §16(2) of the Act to enforce such orders. The policy underling that section precludes the carriers from obtaining review in a forum other than that chosen by the shippers, but there is no obstacle to a cross-proceeding under §17(9) brought by the carriers in that forum. Pp. 383 U. S. 579-606.

(a) The carriers have ample opportunity to secure review of the ICC's orders through defense of the shipper's §16(2) enforcement action. Pennsylvania R. Co. v. United States,363 U. S. 202, and United States v. Interstate Commerce Comm'n,337 U. S. 426, distinguished, as those cases dealt with situations where the challenged orders could only be reviewed in §17(9) proceedings. Pp. 383 U. S. 589-595.

(b) To effectuate the policy of encouraging prompt payment of reparation awards expressed in §16(2), Congress provided the

Page 383 U. S. 577

shipper with certain procedural and substantive benefits, particularly choice of venue, which would not be available in an action instituted by the carrier under §17(9). Pp. 383 U. S. 595-598.

(c) Limiting review of the ICC's orders to §16(2) enforcement actions would not be likely to result in disparity of treatment of shippers . Pp. 383 U. S. 598-602.

(d) The language and history of the direct review provisions of §17(9) are consistent with limitation of review to the forum selected by the shipper in his enforcement proceeding, and the direct review proceeding may be brought as a cross-action in that forum. Pp. 383 U. S. 603-606.

334 F.2d 46, reversed.

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