Under the Act to Regulate Commerce, the duly filed tariff of the
carrier must be charged by it and paid by the shipper or passenger
without deviation therefrom.
Shippers and travelers are charged by the duly filed tariff and
must abide thereby, unless it is found to be unreasonable by the
Interstate Commerce Commission.
Neither misquotation of rates nor ignorance is an excuse for
charging or paying less or more than the filed rate.
Although a passenger might have gone and returned by direct
route to and from the point of destination, if he expressed the
desire to go and come by a different route via specified points, he
must pay the filed tariff rates for the route taken,
notwithstanding a misquotation
Page 237 U. S. 95
made by the carrier's agent and accepted by him in good faith.
Such a mistake is not a mere misrouting by error of the carrier
which would relieve the passenger.
In a case here under § 237, Jud.Code, if the filed tariffs are
not included in the record, this Court takes the findings of the
If the tariffs are not included in the record of a case to
recover excess over- an undercharge, and this Court reverses a
judgment against the carrier on the findings of the state court,
and it appears on further proceedings that there was no
undercharge, the carrier cannot recover in the court below.
The facts, which involve the construction of the Act to Regulate
Commerce and the right of the carrier to recover from a passenger
the amount of an undercharge on sale of railroad tickets, are
stated in the opinion.
MR. JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.
This action was brought, before a justice of the peace in
Tennessee, by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company, to
recover $58.30 as the amount of an alleged undercharge on the sale
of railroad tickets. Judgment for the defendant was affirmed by the
court of civil appeals and by the supreme court of the state. The
case comes here on error.
The facts, which were said to be undisputed, were found by the
state court to be as follows:
Defendant in error, G. A. Maxwell, after repeated interviews and
correspondence with the representatives of the Louisville &
Nashville Railroad Company in regard to rates on round trip tickets
to Salt Lake City, purchased
Page 237 U. S. 96
on or about the first day of June, 1910,
"two passenger tickets from Nashville, Tennessee, to Salt Lake
City, by way of Chicago, Illinois, Denver, Colorado, and routed to
return by Denver, Colorado, Amarillo and Fort Worth, Texas, and
Memphis, Tennessee, and paid for each ticket the sum of $49.
"There were at the time published rates under the provision of
the Interstate Commerce Act by which fares over the route actually
traveled, going and coming, aggregated $78.65 each, or $29.15 each
more than was charged and collected therefor, making a difference
of $58.30 between the amount paid by Mr. Maxwell for the tickets in
question, and the amount that should have been charged and
"Mr. Maxwell was informed when he first made inquiry about the
tickets in January that there were no special rate tickets at that
time, but likely would be by May or June first. He then, and on
several occasions thereafter, made known his desire to go to Salt
Lake City by one route and return by the other, and was told that
he could not be furnished reduced rates except by going and coming
over the same route; but, after repeated inquiries and the
correspondence referred to, he was informed that he could make the
trip on reduced rates one way, and return another, and when he went
finally to purchase the two tickets, he stated to the agent that he
wanted to go by way of Chicago and Denver, and return by way of
Stamford, Texas, and was given the tickets routed as hereinbefore
noted at the rates mentioned. At the time, he in fact could have
gone to Salt Lake City at the rate which he paid, but over other
routes, going and returning through Chicago and Denver, or through
St. Louis and Denver, or through Memphis and Denver, or going
through St. Louis and Denver and returning through Denver,
Amarillo, and Memphis."
"Mr. Maxwell was in no way at fault in the matter.
Page 237 U. S. 97
He did no more than tell the agent the points to which he wished
to go, and make it known that he did not wish to go and return by
the same route. The agent fixed the routing in the tickets and
named the fare, and Maxwell paid without further question."
Under the Interstate Commerce Act, the rate of the carrier duly
filed is the only lawful charge. Deviation from it is not permitted
upon any pretext. Shippers and travelers are charged with notice,
of it, and they as well as the carrier must abide by it, unless it
is found by the Commission to be unreasonable. Ignorance or
misquotation of rates is not an excuse for paying or charging
either less or more than the rate filed. This rule is undeniably
strict, and it obviously may work hardship in some cases, but it
embodies the policy which has been adopted by Congress in the
regulation of interstate commerce in order to prevent unjust
discrimination. The Act (§ 6) provides:
"Nor shall any carrier charge or demand or collect or receive a
greater or less or different compensation for such transportation
of passengers or property, or for any service in connection
therewith, between the points named in such tariffs than the rates,
fares, and charges which are specified in the tariff filed and in
effect at the time; nor shall any carrier refund or remit in any
manner or by any device any portion of the rates, fares, and
charges so specified, nor extend to any shipper or person any
privileges or facilities in the transportation of passengers or
property, except such as are specified in such tariffs."
The scope and effect of the provisions of the statute as to
filing tariffs (both in their present form and as they stood prior
to the amendments of 1906) have been set forth in numerous
decisions. Gulf, Col. & S.F. Ry. v. Hefley,
158 U. S. 98
Texas & Pac. Ry. v. Mugg, 202 U.
; Texas & Pac. Ry. v. Abilene Cotton Oil
Co., 204 U. S. 426
204 U. S. 445
Armour Packing Co. v. United
Page 237 U. S. 98
56, 209 U. S. 81
N.Y.C. & H.R. R. Co. v. United States, 212 U.
, 212 U. S. 504
Chicago & Alton R. Co. v. Kirby, 225 U.
, 225 U. S. 166
Illinois Cent. R. Co. v. Henderson Co., 226 U.
; Kansas City Southern Ry. v. Carl,
227 U. S. 639
227 U. S. 653
Pennsylvania R. Co. v. International Coal Co.,
230 U. S. 184
230 U. S. 197
Boston & Maine R. Co. v. Hooker, 233 U. S.
, 233 U. S.
-113; George N. Pierce Co. v. Wells, Fargo &
Co., 236 U. S. 278
236 U. S. 284
In the Mugg
it appeared that a rate
less than the lawful scheduled rate had been quoted to the shipper
by the agent of the railroad. The shipper had relied upon the
quoted rate in making his shipments and sales. But it was held that
he was bound to pay the established rate, and was not entitled to
the delivery of the goods without such payment. This was upon the
ground that it was beyond the power of the carrier to depart from
the filed rates, and that the erroneous quotation of the rate by
its agent did not justify it in making a different charge from that
which was lawfully applicable to the shipment. As was said in
Kansas City Southern Ry. Co. v. Carl, supra:
"Neither the intentional nor accidental misstatement of the
applicable published rate will bind the carrier or shipper. The
lawful rate is that which the carrier must exact and that which the
shipper must pay. The shipper's knowledge of the lawful rate is
conclusively presumed, and the carrier may not be required to
surrender the goods carried upon the payment of the rate paid, if
that was less than the lawful rate, until the full legal rate has
It was "the purpose of the act to have but one rate, open to all
alike, and from which there could be no departure." Boston
& Maine R. Co. v. Hooker, supra.
The rule is applicable to
the transportation of passengers and their baggage.
The supreme court of the state fully recognized the established
principle, but stated that the majority of the court were of the
opinion that it was not controlling here,
Page 237 U. S. 99
for the reason that Mr. Maxwell could have gone to the point of
destination, Salt Lake City, on one route, and have returned on
another route at the price actually paid for the tickets, and that
therefore "the mere misrouting of the ticket by the railroad
company" was not a discrimination. In thus holding, the assumption
was that there was an error on the part of the railroad company in
the routing, by which he was misled, and that, as it is said, Mr.
"could have gone to Salt Lake City at the price paid over other
routes, going and returning through Chicago and Denver, or going
through St. Louis and Denver, and returning through Denver,
Amarillo, and Memphis, either one of which would have met his
We are unable to reach the conclusion that this ground of
decision was available under the findings of fact. A misstatement
or misquotation of the rate over a given route is one thing;
misrouting is a different matter. We do not think that it can be
said that there is a "misrouting," in any proper sense, when the
route given by the company is that requested by the shipper or
Sprickels v. Monongahela R. Co., 18 I.C.C.
190, 191. According to the findings of fact, it appears that, after
his interviews and correspondence, Mr. Maxwell finally "stated to
the agent that he wanted to go by the way of Chicago and Denver,
and return by the way of Stamford, Texas." His request covered four
points -- Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Stamford. It appears
by the findings that he could have gone at the rate actually paid,
through St. Louis and Denver, returning through Denver, Amarillo,
and Memphis, or that he could have made the trip at that rate,
"going and returning through Chicago and Denver, or through St.
Louis and Denver, or through Memphis and Denver." But, according to
the findings, he was not entitled at the rate which he paid to make
the trip through Chicago and Denver, returning
Page 237 U. S. 100
as he desired through Stamford, Texas. We are not concerned with
the reasons for the differences in rates on the various routes, but
merely with the fact that they existed under the applicable tariffs
as filed. Under these tariffs, the findings of fact show that the
amount paid was less than the amount due over the route
The counsel for the defendant in error insist that, as the
tariffs are not included in the record, the judgment cannot be
reversed. But, as we have said, we take the findings of the state
It is further insisted that, on reference to the tariffs, it
will appear that the railroad company is mistaken in its assertion
that there was an undercharge, and that the rate actually paid was,
in truth, the lawful rate. The tariffs have not been submitted to
us, and it is sufficient to say that if, in the further proceedings
in this case, it shall appear that the defendant in error is right
in this contention, it will necessarily follow that the railroad
company will be unable to recover. But we cannot so hold upon the
case as it is now presented.
The judgment is reversed, and the cause is remanded for further
proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS dissents.