ICC v. Hoboken Mfrs.' R. Co.
Annotate this Case
320 U.S. 368 (1943)
U.S. Supreme Court
ICC v. Hoboken Mfrs.' R. Co., 320 U.S. 368 (1943)
Interstate Commerce Commission v. Hoboken Manufacturers' Railroad Co.
Argued November 9, 1943
Decided December 6, 1943
320 U.S. 368
Appellee, a terminal switching railroad, maintained with trunk lines joint rates on traffic which it interchanged with (inter alia) Seatrain. Much of the traffic so interchanged moved on lighterage-free rates, under which appellee was obligated to load and unload cars at shipside. Seatrain operated vessels on which it transported loaded railroad cars. By Seatrain's method, cars were loaded on and unloaded from its vessels by means of a cradle, and the necessity and expense of loading and unloading freight to and from the cars, usual on interchange with other water carriers, were eliminated. Under a contract between them, appellee made payments to Seatrain in respect of interchanged traffic moving on lighterage-free rates, the payments approximating the cost of unloading or loading freight cars. In 1936, appellee filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission a complaint seeking an increase of its divisions of the joint lighterage-free rates and an adjustment with respect to traffic moving on Commission-prescribed rates subsequent to the filing of the complaint, so as to compensate it for its contract payments to Seatrain. The Commission found that appellee's divisions with the payments to Seatrain excluded were "not unjust, unreasonably low, inequitable, or unduly prejudicial," that the corresponding divisions received by the trunk lines were "not unjust, unreasonably high, inequitable, or unduly preferential of them," and dismissed the complaint.
1. Although Seatrain's service has since February, 1942, been discontinued, the complaint sought adjustment of divisions received on Commission-prescribed rates subsequent to its filing, and to that extent, at least, the case is not moot. P. 320 U. S. 376.
2. The Commission's findings that appellee's transportation service with respect to carload freight interchanged with Seatrain begins and ends at Seatrain's cradle; that the rail lines perform the interchange transportation service covered by their tariffs "when they place the cars in or take them from the Seatrain cradle;" and that, consequently, the payments made by appellee to Seatrain "cover no part of its transportation service under the lighterage-free
rates, and are in addition to the full costs of that service," are supported by evidence. P. 320 U. S. 377.
3. The Commission's determination of the point in time and space at which a carrier's transportation service begins or ends is an administrative finding which, if supported by evidence, is conclusive on the courts. P. 320 U. S. 378.
4. Appellee is entitled to receive by way of divisions only its just and equitable share of the proceeds of the joint rail transportation service rendered, and cannot claim as a part of its share the costs of a service which is not a part of the rail service called for by the joint rates. P. 320 U. S. 379.
5. From the Commission's finding that the loading and unloading of its vessels is incident to Seatrain's transportation service, it follows that Seatrain is entitled to compensation therefor in its tariffs, which, if inadequate, may be increased, rather than through participation, by way of allowances paid to it by appellee, in the proceeds of a joint rail service of which it performs no part. P. 320 U. S. 379.
6. Whether the payments to Seatrain induced the performance of an interchange service resulting in savings to the rail carriers is irrelevant to a determination of divisions of the joint rates for the rail service of which the ship loading and unloading service performed by Seatrain is not a part. P. 320 U. S. 380.
7. Section 15(6) of the Interstate Commerce Act, which authorizes the division of joint rates applicable to a transportation service, contemplates only the apportionment of the proceeds of that service among the parties to it, and not the compensation of others for a service not covered by the joint rates to be divided. P. 320 U. S. 380.
8. Prescription by the Interstate Commerce Commission of divisions of joint rates is not a mere partition of property, but is an aspect of the general rate policy which Congress has directed the Commission to establish and administer in the public interest. At least where the Commission prescribes for the complaining party a fair return for the transportation service which it renders, the question as to what is a proper division is one for the Commission's discretion, reviewable only for unreasonableness, departure from statutory standards, or lack of evidentiary support. P. 320 U. S. 381.
9. The Commission's determinations of rate policy in this case cannot be set aside as arbitrary or as resulting in unjust divisions. P. 320 U. S. 382.
10. The Commission's refusal to include in appellee's divisions payments which were voluntarily made to Seatrain does not constitute confiscation of appellee's property. P. 320 U. S. 382.
47 F.Supp. 779 reversed.
Appeal from a judgment of a District Court of three judges setting aside an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission.