that, under Rev.Stats. § 4002, as amended, the
Postmaster General may fix the sums payable to a railroad company
for transporting the mails upon the basis of weights taken
immediately before the beginning of the four-year term of the
contract, and that annual weighings are not required. P.
251 U. S.
A railroad company which knowingly contracts and receives on
this basis less than it would have received on the basis of annual
weighings has no implied contract right to be paid the difference
by the United States. P. 251 U. S.
Prior to the Act of July 28, 1916, c. 261, 39 Stat. 429, a
nonland-grant railroad was not required to carry the mails, and
when it voluntarily accepted and performed the service with
knowledge of what the United States intended to pay, it cannot
claim more upon the ground that its property was taken.
53 Ct.Clms. 222 affirmed.
The case is stated in the opinion.
Page 251 U. S. 126
MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.
Appellant sued the United States to recover the difference
between amounts received through the Post Office Department and
what it claims should have been paid for its services in carrying
the mails during a series of years, ending June 30, 1914. The
demand is based upon implied contracts alleged to arise from the
following circumstances. First. Acceptance and transportation of
the mails in reliance upon § 4002, Revised Statutes, as amended.
This directs payment of specified sums per mile per annum according
to weights, and the claim is that, because the Post Office
Department improperly construed and applied it, appellant received
much less than it should have. Second. Acceptance and
transportation of the mails under orders and coercion of the Post
Office Department, followed by failure to allow reasonable
compensation therefor. Appellant claims its property was taken for
public use and adequate compensation must be paid.
Concerning the challenged interpretation and application of §
4002, Revised Statutes, resulting in payments during each four-year
term upon the basis of weights taken
Page 251 U. S. 127
immediately prior to the beginning of the same, instead of
annually, it suffices to say that the action taken accords with
prior practice followed for many years, the letter of the statute
permits it, the carrier submitted with full knowledge, and,
impliedly at least, it was sanctioned by this Court in
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western R. Co. v. United
States, 249 U. S. 385
We think it must be treated as settled doctrine that, prior to
Act July 28, 1916, c. 261, 39 Stat. 412, 429 -- with the exception
of certain roads aided by land grants -- railroads were not
required by law to carry the mails. Eastern R. Co. v. United
States, 129 U. S. 391
129 U. S. 394
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. United States,
225 U. S. 640
225 U. S. 650
Delaware, Lackawanna & Western R. Co. v. United States,
And as appellant voluntarily accepted and performed the
service with knowledge of what the United States intended to pay,
it cannot now claim an implied contract for a greater sum. It may
be that any railroad by failing to carry the mails would incur the
hostility of those living along its lines, and as a consequence
suffer serious financial losses, but the fear of such results
certainly does not amount to compulsion by the United States, and
cannot constitute the basis of a justiciable claim against them for
The Court of Claims (53 Ct.Clms. 222) dismissed the petition
upon demurrer, and its judgment is
MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS dissents.