In re Engelhard & Sons Co.,
231 U.S. 646 (1914)

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U.S. Supreme Court

In re Engelhard & Sons Co., 231 U.S. 646 (1914)

In re Engelhard & Sons Company

No. 12, Original

Argued November 10, 1913

Decided January 5, 1914

231 U.S. 646


In a suit by a public utility corporation to enjoin enforcement of rates claimed to be confiscatory, the municipality is the proper party to be made defendant, and as such it can represent all parties interested. The only mode of judicial relief against unreasonable rates is by suit against the governmental authority which established them or is charged with the duty of enforcing them.

It is not competent for each individual having dealings with a regulated public utility corporation to raise a contest in the courts over questions which can be settled in a general and conclusive manner. Chicago, M. & St. P. Ry. v. Minnesota, 134 U. S. 418.

Where a telephone company has sued the municipality to enjoin rates as confiscatory and an injunction has been granted upon the company paying into a fund the excess collected from the subscribers, the

Page 231 U. S. 647

municipality is the proper party to represent all the subscribers on a reference to determine the amount of refund to which each is entitled after the rates have been held not confiscatory and the injunction dissolved.

Under such conditions, a single subscriber cannot represent all the subscribers as a class, and the court is not compelled under Equity Rule 38 to allow him to intervene.

In this case, the court below having acted within its discretion in refusing a petition for leave to intervene, mandamus to compel it to grant the petition is refused.

The facts, which involve the right and power of a municipality to represent the residents and citizens having contracts with a public utilities corporation in a suit brought by such corporation to enjoin as confiscatory rates established by ordinance of the municipality, are stated in the opinion.

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