Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. United States,
279 U.S. 781 (1929)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. United States, 279 U.S. 781 (1929)

Baltimore & Ohio R. Co. v. United States

No. 563

Argued April 24, 1929

Decided June 3, 1929

279 U.S. 781


After this Court had reversed a decree of the district court of three judges erroneously refusing to vacate an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission by which appellant railroads (plaintiffs below) were required to absorb transfer charges on certain traffic moving west at St. Louis ( 277 U. S. 277 U.S. 291), and by its mandate had directed such further proceedings in the case in conformity with this Court's opinion and decree as, according to right and justice and the laws of the United States, ought to be had, the appellants applied to the district court for a decree in accordance with the mandate, including restitution by the appellee railroads of the amounts which the appellants had borne and paid under the order because of the erroneous decree, and for a reference to a master to ascertain such amounts. The district court reversed that decree, set aside the Commission's order, retained jurisdiction, and later entered its final decree denying the restitution and reference.


1. The decree denying the application for restitution and for reference to a master was appealable to this Court under the Urgent Deficiencies Act of October 22, 1913. P. 279 U. S. 784.

Page 279 U. S. 782

2. The application for restitution was, in effect, an equity suit resulting in a final decree. P. 279 U. S. 785.

3. When a lower federal court refuses to give effect to or misconstrues a mandate of this Court, its action may be controlled by this Court. P. 279 U. S. 785.

4. Under the Act, a court of three judges was required for the entry of decree on mandate; its jurisdiction necessarily included power to make all orders required to carry on the suit and enforce the rights and obligations of the parties arising in it. And appeal from the decree refusing restitution rested on the same foundation as the first appeal. P. 279 U. S. 785.

5. The appellant were entitled to restitution of the amounts paid under the original erroneous decree, with interest at the rate established by the law of the state. P. 279 U. S. 785.

6. The district court should have retained jurisdiction and awarded restitution, in avoidance of a multiplicity of suits and the virtual denial of justice that would result if each claim must be separately litigated at law. P. 279 U. S. 786.

7. The district judges should give their reasons in deciding important cases. P. 279 U. S. 787.


Appeal from a decree of the district court of three judges denying an application for restitution and for a reference to a master. The proceedings below occurred after the receipt of the mandate issued by this Court pursuant to its decision upon a former appeal. 277 U. S. 277 U.S. 291.

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