Consolo v. FMC - 383 U.S. 607 (1966)
U.S. Supreme Court
Consolo v. FMC, 383 U.S. 607 (1966)
Consolo v. Federal Maritime Commission
Argued December 6-7, 1965
Decided March 22, 1966
383 U.S. 607
Respondent Flota, a common carrier by water, made an exclusive contract with Panama Ecuador to transport bananas. The contract was executed after a Federal Maritime Board ruling, later reiterated, that Flota's competitor had violated the Shipping Act, 1916 by its exclusive contracts and refusal to allocate banana shipping space among all qualified shippers. Petitioner, a competitor of Panama Ecuador, demanded a reasonable amount of Flota's banana carrying space under the Board's decisions and threatened litigation if rejected. Flota rejected the demand and brought a proceeding before the Board for declaratory relief exonerating it from liability to petitioner. Petitioner then filed a complaint with the Board asking for damages. The actions were consolidated, and the Board ruled that Flota's exclusive contract violated the Shipping Act, and ordered a fair allocation of banana shipping space. Flota, pursuant to the Administrative Orders Review Act, petitioned the Court of Appeals to set aside the order, and the appeal was stayed pending determination of the reparation proceeding. Following the Board's reparation order, Flota and petitioner each appealed, Flota asking that the award and finding of a Shipping Act violation be set aside, petitioner that the award be increased. After holding that it had jurisdiction over the appeals, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Board's finding of a Shipping Act violation, but remanded the case for the Board to consider whether it was inequitable to make Flota pay reparations. The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) held that it was not inequitable, but reduced the award. Following renewed appeals, the Court of Appeals reversed and vacated the award as inequitable and an abuse of discretion, in effect on the ground that there was substantial evidence to support a conclusion contrary to that reached by the FMC.
1. The Court of Appeals had jurisdiction to consider petitioner shipper's direct appeal challenging the adequacy of the FMC reparation order. Section of the Administrative Orders Review Act in conjunction with Section 31 of the Shipping Act, 1916 provides a procedure for direct review of FMC orders similar to that applicable to ICC orders. Such orders are reviewable on
direct appeal by a shipper denied reparations in whole or in part, since the adequacy of a reparation award cannot be challenged in an enforcement proceeding, United States v. Interstate Commerce Comm'n, 337 U. S. 426. Pp. 383 U. S. 612-614.
2. Since the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals had been invoked by the shipper seeking to increase the amount of his damages, that court also had jurisdiction over the carrier's direct review appeal as to the validity of the FMC order and the amount of reparations, whether considered as a consolidated appeal or as an intervenor's cross-claim. ICC v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., ante, p. 383 U. S. 576. Pp. 383 U. S. 614-618.
3. The FMC's finding that it would not be inequitable to require Flota to pay petitioner reparations was supported by substantial evidence, and must be sustained on review. Pp. 383 U. S. 618-626.
(a) A reviewing court is not at liberty to weigh the evidence and substitute its discretion for that of the administrative agency. Pp. 383 U. S. 619-621.
(b) In determining whether to exercise its discretion to award reparations to a complainant under the Shipping Act, the FMC may be guided by such factors as whether an award would further the Act's enforcement, injury to the shipper, the carrier's culpability, and whether the award would conform to previous application of the Act. P. 383 U. S. 622.
(c) The findings that Flota had unjustly discriminated against petitioner and given undue preference to his competitor in violation of the Shipping Act undercut Flota's claimed equities. Pp. 383 U. S. 622-623.
119 U.S.App.D.C. 345, 342 F.2d 924, reversed.