Postal Telegraph Cable Co. v. New Hope
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192 U.S. 55 (1901)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Postal Telegraph Cable Co. v. New Hope, 192 U.S. 55 (1904)
Postal Telegraph Cable Company v. New Hope
Argued December 11, 1903
Decided January 4, 1901
192 U.S. 55
ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT
OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
In an action against a telegraph company doing an interstate business for license fees taxed by a borough in Pennsylvania under an ordinance fixing the amount of the tax per pole and per mile of wire, the court held that, while the question of reasonableness of the tax was one for the court, he would submit it to the jury for their aid and as advisory only, directing them to find for the plaintiff if they regarded the amount as reasonable and for the defendant if they regarded it as unreasonable; the jury found a verdict for plaintiff for an amount less than that fixed by the ordinance, and the court directed judgment to be entered thereon for the amount so found.
Held, that if the amount of the license fee fixed by the ordinance was not reasonable, the ordinance was void, and neither the court nor the jury could fix any other amount.
Held that a verdict for an amount less than that fixed by the ordinance, and the order of the court to enter judgment thereon for the amount so found, amounted to a finding by the jury and the court that the ordinance was not reasonable and the verdict and judgment should have been for defendant.