1. The provision of the amended Interstate Commerce Act allowing
an action to enforce a reparation order to be brought in any
district "through which the road of the carrier runs" (§ 16, c.
309, 36 Stat. 539, 554) applies to a district where the defendant
owns no railroad, but has its cars hauled by, and over the line of,
another carrier for a mileage compensation to and from a point
therein where both share the expenses of freight and ticket offices
at which the defendant issues tickets and bills of lading to the
points on its system outside pursuant to tariffs making no
divisions of rates between the two. P. 256 U. S.
Page 256 U. S. 409
2. This provision as to venue was not repealed by the
legislation abolishing the Commerce Court, 38 Stat. 219. P.
256 U. S.
3. Under the Federal Railroad Control Act, § 10, c. 25, 40 Stat.
456, an action to enforce a reparation order based on a shipment
which moved before the government took control of the defendant
carrier's railroad could be brought against the carrier while such
control existed. P. 256 U. S.
4. A return showing service of summons in such an action on a
person described as the carrier's freight agent is not impeached by
the fact that the government was in control of the railroad at the
time in the absence of proof that he was employed by the Director
General of Railroads, and not also as agent of the carrier. P.
256 U. S.
5. A general finding by the district court in an action at law
tried without a jury is conclusive upon all matters of fact, and,
in the absence of exceptions to rulings of law during the trial,
review in this Court is limited to the sufficiency of the
complaint. P. 256 U. S.
6. A petition, in an action to enforce a reparation order,
sufficient under § 16 of the amended Interstate
Commerce Act, supra,
prescribing that such a petition
shall set forth briefly the causes for which damages are claimed
and the order of the Commission in the premises. P. 256 U. S.
7. The pendency of a carrier's application for relief under § 4
of the Interstate Commerce Act, as amended in 1910, did not suspend
the Commission's power to award reparation for past exactions of an
unreasonable rate which the carrier itself corrected by amending
its tariffs after the petition for reparation was filed. P.
256 U. S.
261 F. 741 affirmed.
Error to review a judgment of the circuit court of appeals
affirming a judgment for the shipper in an action brought in the
district court to enforce a reparation order made by the Interstate
The facts are stated in the opinion.
Page 256 U. S. 410
MR. JUSTICE CLARKE delivered the opinion of the court.
This is an action instituted by a shipper under the provisions
of § 16 of the Interstate Commerce Act, as amended June 18, 1910,
c. 309, 36 Stat. 539, 554, against various carriers based upon an
order of the Interstate Commerce Commission for the payment of
money found due as reparation for the exacting of an unreasonable
rate for the transportation of "box shooks" in carload lots from
Vicksburg, Mississippi, to Port Arthur, Texas, which the carriers
refused to pay.
It will be necessary to consider only the liability of the
defendant, the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific Railway Company,
hereinafter referred to as the Vicksburg Company.
The petition in the case was filed in the United States District
Court for the Western Division of the Southern District of
Mississippi, and the plaintiff therein, defendant in error, for the
purpose of showing the venue, allowed in § 16 of the Interstate
Commerce Act, supra,
alleged that the defendant, the
Vicksburg Company, was operating a part of its road within that
district. The Vicksburg Company challenged the jurisdiction of the
district court by a plea in abatement, denying that it owned or
operated a railroad in the district at the time or for many months
before the petition was filed, and averred that the person on whom
summons was served was not at the time its agent.
The shipper prevailed in both lower courts.
The venue provision of the Interstate Commerce Act allows such
an action as we have here to be commenced in any district "through
which the road of the carrier runs," and it is contended, first,
that the Vicksburg Company did not have a road running through the
district of suit, and that therefore the court did not have
jurisdiction over the case.
Page 256 U. S. 411
It is stipulated that the Vicksburg Company is a Louisiana
corporation, and that, at the times involved, it owned a railroad
extending through Louisiana to Delta Point, a station on the west
bank of the Mississippi River, opposite Vicksburg. Its cars were
ferried to and fro across the river and were hauled by the Alabama
& Vicksburg Railroad Company, hereinafter called the Alabama
Company, over its rails to freight and passenger stations in
Vicksburg. The Vicksburg and the Alabama Companies shared the
expense of freight and ticket offices in Vicksburg at which tickets
were sold and bills of lading issued by the Vicksburg Company from
Vicksburg to various points on its line. The Vicksburg Company
filed passenger and freight tariffs with the Interstate Commerce
Commission without any division of rates with the Alabama Company,
that company being paid on a mileage basis for the service which it
rendered east of the river. It is also stipulated "that exactly the
same arrangement is now in force between" the Vicksburg and Alabama
Companies "as was in effect before the United States government
took control of these two roads."
Thus, the mileage, passenger, freight, and tariff publication
arrangements which the Vicksburg Company had with the Alabama
Company plainly were equivalent in practice to a lease of the road
of that company to the Vicksburg Company for its transportation
purposes, and the dealings of the Vicksburg Company with the public
and with the Interstate Commerce Commission with respect to traffic
to and from Vicksburg were precisely the same as if it had owned or
had leased the Alabama Company's tracks. The applicable venue
provision of the Interstate Commerce Act does not require that the
carrier shall be the owner of a railroad in the district, but only
that its road must run through it, and we agree with the circuit
court of appeals in concluding that the tracks of the Alabama
Company east of the river, in the district
Page 256 U. S. 412
of suit, under the circumstances of operation as the parties
stipulated them to be, constituted them the road of the Vicksburg
Company within the meaning of the act.
It is next contended that the person on whom summons was served
was not at the time an agent of the Vicksburg Company.
The return of the marshal is that he executed the writ "by
handing a true copy of this summons and petition for judgment to
Austin King, freight agent for the Vicksburg, Shreveport &
Pacific Railway Company." The plea in abatement denied on
"information, knowledge and belief" of counsel that King was at the
time of service an agent of either of the defendants. No evidence
whatever was introduced to sustain this plea, and, in support of
it, sole reliance is placed upon the stipulation that the
government was in control of the lines of the Vicksburg Company at
the time the petition was filed.
The unreasonable rate for which the reparation order was made
was exacted on shipments moving long prior to the taking over of
the railroads by the government in December, 1917, and, there being
no evidence that King was not the agent of the Vicksburg Company,
the return of the marshal was properly accepted by both lower
courts as conclusive. He may not have been in the employ of the
Director General of Railroads at all, and it was entirely possible
for him to have been serving as agent for both the Director and the
Since the shipment for which reparation was allowed moved prior
to the taking over of the railroads by the United States
government, as against the objection of government control, we
think the provision of § 10 of the Federal Railroad Control Act (40
Stat. 451, 45) is applicable and ample to support the jurisdiction,
"actions at law or suits in equity may be brought by and against
such carriers and judgments rendered as now provided by law, and in
any action at law or suit in equity
Page 256 U. S. 413
against the carrier, no defense shall be made thereto upon the
ground that the carrier is an instrumentality or agency of the
It is further claimed that the act of Congress abolishing the
Commerce Court (38 Stat. 208, 219) repealed by implication the
provisions of § 16, supra,
permitting such reparation
suits as we have here to be filed in the district court for any
district "through which the road of the carrier runs," and that,
for this reason, the district court was without jurisdiction.
The plaintiff was a Michigan corporation, and if the provisions
of § 16 referred to had been repealed at the time the case was
commenced, the venue was improperly laid, and the court was without
The argument is that the act of Congress abolishing the Commerce
Court, in restoring to the district courts the jurisdiction which
had been vested exclusively in that court, provided that
"the venue of any suit hereafter brought to enforce, suspend, or
set aside . . . any order of the Interstate Commerce Commission
shall be in the judicial district wherein is the residence of the
party of any of the parties upon whose petition the order was
(38 Stat. 219), and that this provision for venue is so
inconsistent with that of § 16, supra,
allowing suit to be
commenced on an order for the payment of money in any district
through which the road of the carrier runs that the latter must be
regarded as repealed by implication.
This contention is much too artificial and unsubstantial for us
to consider it in much detail. It is enough to say that the two
principal amendments to the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 show
that it has been the plainly expressed policy of Congress to make
the prosecution of suits upon reparation orders for the payment of
money progressively easier and less expensive for the shipper by
enlarging the venue provisions of them, doubtless because
Page 256 U. S. 414
many such claims are so small that, if suit could be maintained
by the owners only in distant jurisdictions, a large part of them
would be abandoned. Act 1887, 24 Stat. 379, 384, § 16; Act 1906, 34
Stat. 584, 590, § 5; Act 1910, 36 Stat. 539, 554, § 13. The
Commerce Court repealing act was a section of an appropriation act
and dealt with venue only to the extent necessary to redistribute
the jurisdiction of the court abolished, and, in terms, it repealed
only acts or parts of acts insofar "as they relate to the
establishment of the Commerce Court," and again so far as
"inconsistent with the foregoing provisions relating to the
Commerce Court." 38 Stat. 219, 221. The venue provided for and
relied upon in this suit was for suits in the circuit (district)
court on an order for the payment of money, and of such suits the
Commerce Court never had jurisdiction.
The contention that Congress intended by implication to repeal
and cut down to such narrow limits the venue which has gradually
been so liberally extended cannot be entertained. The terms of the
repealing act do not justify it, and we cannot doubt that, if such
purpose had been intended, it would not have been left to inference
and implication, but would have been clearly expressed.
Coming to the essentials of the case. When the cause came on for
trial on its merits, a jury being duly waived, it is recited in the
entry of the judgment that it was stipulated that either party
might use in evidence any part of the record and evidence
introduced in the hearings before the Interstate Commerce
Commission which resulted in the order relied upon, and that any of
the printed reports and findings of the Commission might be used.
It is also recited that the plaintiff introduced the report of the
Interstate Commerce Commission and the order of the Commission
directing the payment of the money sued for, and rested its case,
and that "the defendant introduced no evidence." Thereupon the
Page 256 U. S. 415
court found that the report and order of the Commission
constituted prima facie
evidence of the facts therein
stated, and entered judgment in favor of the plaintiff for the
amount of the order, with interest and an attorney's fee.
There was no request made by the carriers for any ruling of law,
and no exception whatever was taken during the trial. There being
no special findings of fact by the court, its general finding has
the effect of a verdict of a jury (Rev.Stats. § 649), is conclusive
upon all matters of fact, and, there not being any exceptions to
rulings of law in the progress of the trial, the review in this
Court is limited to the sufficiency of the complaint (Rev.Stats. §
700). Norris v.
9 Wall. 125; St. Louis v. Western
Union Telegraph Co., 166 U. S. 388
Lehnen v. Dickson, 148 U. S. 71
The contention that the petition does not state a cause of
action against the carriers first appears in the assignment of
errors in the circuit court of appeals, after an elaborate answer
and adverse judgment in the district court. However, the petition
avers that the shipper filed its petition with the Interstate
Commerce Commission, claiming that it had been charged an
unreasonable rate, that, upon hearing, the Commission entered an
order for the payment of money "as reparation on account of
unreasonable rate exacted for the transportation" of its freight,
that the order required payment to be made by a date named, that
the carriers had refused payment when demanded, and that the suit
was instituted under the Act to Regulate Commerce of 1887, and
amendments thereof. To this petition copies of the report and order
of the Commission were attached. These allegations were amply
sufficient to meet the requirements of the statute that the
petition in such a case shall set forth briefly the causes for
which damages are claimed and the order of the Commission in the
premises. (36 Stat. 539, 554, § 13.)
Page 256 U. S. 416
It is also contended that it was not competent for the
Interstate Commerce Commission to enter the order which was made,
for the reason that, before the hearing by the Commission, the
carriers had filed an application for relief under § 4 of the
Interstate Commerce Act, as amended in 1910, which had not been
disposed of at the time the order was made, and that therefore the
provision of that act that no rates or charges lawfully existing at
the time of the passage of the amendment should be required to be
changed until the determination of such application by the
Commission was applicable. To this it is sufficient to say that it
appears from the Commission's first report that, immediately after
the filing of the complaint with the Commission, the carriers
amended their tariffs so as to correct the unreasonable rate which
was complained of under § 3 of the act, and we quite agree with the
Commission that whatever the application under § 4 may have been
(there is no copy of it in the record), such amendment removed the
occasion for further suspension of action by the Commission under
the provision quoted. The Commission aptly says that the rate then
on file conformed "to the requirements of the fourth section and
defendants' application insofar as this adjustment is concerned has
no further office to perform."
The final contention that the facts found by the Interstate
Commerce Commission were so adopted by the district court as to
become special findings of fact by that court which may be reviewed
by this Court without exception being taken to any of them is too
trivial to deserve discussion.
It results that the judgment of the circuit court of appeals