New York ex rel Water Co. v. Maltbie,
303 U.S. 158 (1938)

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U.S. Supreme Court

New York ex rel Water Co. v. Maltbie, 303 U.S. 158 (1938)

New York ex rel Water Co. v. Maltbie

No. 380

Argued February 3, 4, 1938

Decided February 14, 1938

303 U.S. 158



A public utility in New York, complaining of an order reducing its rates, sought a review by certiorari, which, under the state practice, is limited to questions of law.


1. That it had no standing to say that the limitation deprived it of due process of law. P. 160.

2. That, of the questions of law presented, including the question whether there was evidence to sustain the findings of fact made by the rate-fixing body, none was a substantial federal question. Id.

Appeal from 275 N.Y. 357, 9 N.E.2d 961, dismissed.

Page 303 U. S. 159


In a proceeding before the Public Service Commission of the New York relating to rates for water supplied by appellant to the City of Utica and adjacent communities, the Commission, on June 28, 1933, after full hearing and upon findings determining the fair value of the property of appellant used and useful in rendering service to its customers, the amount of annual operating income required to yield a 6 percent return upon such fair value, and the average operating income of the company for the years 1930 and 1931 (as adjusted to allow for additional expense), directed appellant to file a schedule of rates which should effect a reduction in its annual operating revenues of at least $120,000 per annum. The Commission denied a rehearing, with permission to apply for an increase of rates if, after a reasonable time, it should appear that a definite change in prices had occurred.

In certiorari proceedings, appellant challenged these determinations and orders as unlawful and confiscatory, in violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The appellate Division, Third Department, of the Supreme Court of the State sustained the action of the Commission, 245 App.Div. 866, 282 N.Y.S. 412, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division, 275 N.Y. 357, 9 N.E.2d 961. The case comes here on appeal which appellees move to dismiss for the want of jurisdiction upon the ground that no substantial federal question is involved.

1. Appellant contends that it is entitled to the exercise of the independent judgment of a court as to the law and the facts with respect to the issue of confiscation, and that

Page 303 U. S. 160

such a review has not been accorded because of the limitations imposed by the state practice in certiorari proceedings. 275 N.Y. 357 at p. 370, 9 N.E.2d 961. Appellant has no standing to raise this question, as appellant itself sought review by certiorari, and has not invoked the plenary jurisdiction of a court of equity, and it does not appear that this remedy is not available under the state law. Pennsylvania Gas Co. v. Public Service Comm'n, 211 App.Div. 253, 256, 207 N.Y.S. 599; New Rochelle Water Co. v. Maltbie, 248 App.Div. 66, 70, 289 N.Y.S. 388.

2. Upon the review of the Commission's orders by certiorari, only questions of law were open under the state practice, including the question whether there was evidence to sustain the findings of the Commission. 275 N.Y. 357 at p. 366, 9 N.E.2d 961. In that view, no substantial federal question is presented. Cedar Rapids Gas Co. v. Cedar Rapids, 223 U. S. 655, 223 U. S. 668-670; Interstate Commerce Comm'n v. Louisville & Nashville R. Co., 227 U. S. 88, 227 U. S. 91-92; New York ex rel. New York & Queens Gas Co. v. McCall, 219 N.Y. 84, 88-90, 113 N.E. 795; 245 U. S. 245 U.S. 345, 245 U. S. 348-349. The motion to dismiss is granted.


MR. JUSTICE CARDOZO took no part in the consideration and decision of this case.

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