Central Vermont Transportation Co. v. Durning,
294 U.S. 33 (1935)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Central Vermont Transportation Co. v. Durning, 294 U.S. 33 (1935)

Central Vermont Transportation Co. v. Durning

No. 247

Argued December 13, 1934

Decided January 7, 1935

294 U.S. 33


1. A vessel owned by a Maine corporation, the stock of which is owned by a Vermont corporation, whose shares, with the voting power, are in turn vested in a Canadian corporation, is not "a vessel . . . owned by persons who are citizens of the United States," within the meaning of § 27 of the Merchant Marine Act, 1920, prohibiting the transportation of merchandise, on penalty of its forfeiture, between points in the United States, by water, or by land and water, in a vessel other than one "owned by persons who are citizens of the United States." P. 294 U. S. 37.

So held in view of §§ 37 and 38 of this Act (the latter amending § 2 of the Shipping Act of 1916) whereby the interests required to be held by citizens in order that a corporation may be deemed "a citizen of the United States" are defined.

2. The proviso of § 27 of the Merchant Marine Act, exempting from its operation

"merchandise transported between points within the continental United States, excluding Alaska, over through routes heretofore or hereafter recognized by the Interstate Commerce Commission for which routes rate tariffs have been or shall hereafter be filed with said Commission when such routes are in part over Canadian rail lines and their own or other connecting water facilities . . ."

does not apply to merchandise shipped from St. Albans, Vt., to New London, Conn., by rail, and thence by water to New York City, even though the route be part of a through route which elsewhere embraces Canadian rail lines and for which tariffs were filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission. P. 294 U. S. 37.

3. An interpretation of the proviso which would enable foreign-owned vessels to carry merchandise in coastwise traffic, over routes wholly within the United States, by the expedient of filing tariffs showing participation in through routes extending over Canadian railways, would go beyond its purpose and in large measure defeat the prohibition of § 27. P. 294 U. S. 39.

4. The fact that a carrier by water is subject to the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission, by virtue of the provisions of

Page 294 U. S. 34

the Interstate Commerce Act which extend its application

"to the transportation of passengers or property . . . partly by railroad and partly by water when both are used under a common control, management, or arrangement for a continuous carriage of shipment"

and which authorize the Commission to establish through routes and maximum joint rates over such rail and water lines and to determine "the terms and conditions under which such lines shall be operated in the handling of the traffic embraced" held not to exempt it from the operation of § 27 of the Merchant Marine Act. P. 294 U. S. 40.

5. The application of § 27 of the Merchant Marine Act to a foreign-controlled corporation -- Shipping Act of 1916, § 2, as mended by § 38 of the Merchant Marine Act and made applicable by § 37 of that Act -- which had not theretofore been subjected to the prohibition there reenacted, and though it will result in the loss of a substantial part of the business of the corporation, does not deprive it of its property without due process of law in violation of the Fifth Amendment. P. 294 U. S. 41.

71 F.2d 273 affirmed.

Certiorari to review a judgment which reversed an interlocutory order of the District Court restraining the seizure and forfeiture of merchandise alleged to have been transported in violation of § 27 of the Merchant Marine Act.

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