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MINNEAPOLIS & ST. LOUIS RAILROAD COMPANY ET AL. v. PEORIA & PEKIN UNION RAILWAY COMPANY

decided: April 12, 1926.

MINNEAPOLIS & ST. LOUIS RAILROAD COMPANY ET AL
v.
PEORIA & PEKIN UNION RAILWAY COMPANY



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF IOWA.

Taft, Holmes, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis, Sutherland, Butler, Sanford, Stone

Author: Brandeis

[ 270 U.S. Page 581]

 MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This suit by the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad Company and its receiver against the Peoria & Pekin Union Railway Company was brought on August 6, 1925, in the federal court of southern Iowa. Its purpose is to enjoin the defendant from refusing to switch cars for the plaintiffs, the claim being that the defendant is directed to perform this service by an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission dated April 13, 1922. The controversy between the parties has been repeatedly before the Commission. One phase was considered by this Court in Peoria & Pekin Union Ry. Co. v. United States, 263 U.S. 528. The case at bar presents only questions of jurisdiction and procedure.

[ 270 U.S. Page 582]

     The defendant is an Illinois corporation with its principal place of business in that State. The only service upon it was made there. Appearing specially, it objected both to the service and to the jurisdiction of the court, and moved that the service be quashed and the bill be dismissed. The plaintiffs contended that, under the Act of October 22, 1913, c. 32, 38 Stat. 208, 219, the federal court for southern Iowa had jurisdiction and the service was good, because the suit is one to enforce an order of the Commission made on petition of the plaintiff company, a resident of that district. The court held, upon final hearing, that the order was no longer in effect when this suit was begun, and that, for this reason, it was without jurisdiction over the defendant. The decree entered set aside the service of process and dismissed the bill for want of jurisdiction. The case is here on direct appeal under paragraph 4 of § 238 of the Judicial Code as amended by Act of February 13, 1925, c. 229, 43 Stat. 936, 938. The Peoria Company concedes that the order was duly entered April 13, 1922. Minneapolis & St. Louis R. R. Co. v. Peoria & Pekin Union Ry. Co., 68 I. C. C. 412. The Minneapolis & St. Louis concedes that, unless the order was still in force when the bill was filed, the service was a nullity and the court without jurisdiction over the defendants. Compare Robertson v. Railroad Labor Board, 268 U.S. 619, 622; Blumenstock Bros. v. Curtis Publishing Co., 252 U.S. 436. The main question for decision is whether, on the facts to be stated, the order was in force at the time the bill was filed.

The Commission had found that the Peoria Company discriminated against the Minneapolis & St. Louis by imposing upon it a switching charge while certain other carriers were not required to pay any charge. By the order of April 13, 1922, the Commission directed that the discrimination be removed. That order left the Peoria Company free to remove the discrimination either by discontinuing

[ 270 U.S. Page 583]

     the charge complained of or by making a like charge to the other lines. Compare United States v. Illinois Central R. R. Co., 263 U.S. 515, 521. It elected to remove the discrimination by making a charge to the other carriers and filed tariffs to that end. The other carriers protested. The new tariffs were suspended for consideration by the Commission in a new proceeding known as Investigation and Suspension Docket No. 1596. At the request of the Minneapolis & St. Louis, the proceeding which it had brought was, by order of July 10, 1922, reopened for further hearing in this connection. On December 22, 1922, the Commission concluded that the new tariffs were not justified; and that a still broader investigation involving additional parties must be had before just rates could be established. Intermediate Switching Charges at Peoria, Ill., 77 I. C. C. 43. On that day, it entered an order in the original proceeding brought by the Minneapolis & St. Louis: "That the complaint in this proceeding be, and it is hereby, dismissed." On the same day, it entered in the later proceeding in order that the new tariffs be cancelled.

The Peoria Company concluded that the order dismissing the complaint in the proceeding instituted by the Minneapolis & St. Louis had the effect of rescinding the order of April 13, 1922, based thereon, and that its original tariff of charges against the Minneapolis & St. Louis, which had never been cancelled, remained in full force. On January 4, 1923, it notified the Commission that it would act accordingly. On January 5, 1923, the Chairman of Division 5 of the Commission*fn1 telegraphed the Peoria

[ 270 U.S. Page 584]

     Company that the order of April 13, 1922, "still stands unrescinded." On January 8, 1923, the Commission entered, of its own motion, pursuant to paragraph 2 of § 13 of the Interstate Commerce Act as amended, an order for a general investigation into switching charges at Peoria. With the proceeding so ordered, it reopened and consolidated the earlier ones. On January 18, 1923, the Commission issued the emergency service-order requiring the Peoria Company to continue switching which this Court held to be void in Peoria & Pekin Union Ry. Co. v. United States, 263 U.S. 528, decided January 7, 1924.

The Minneapolis & St. Louis contends that the dismissal of its complaint on December 22, 1922, did not operate as a rescission of the order which had been entered thereon April 13, 1922. The argument is that the order by its terms provided that it "shall continue in force until the further order of the commission"; that, moreover, paragraph 2 of § 15 of the Interstate Commerce Act as amended provides that all orders of the Commission "shall continue in force until its further order . . . unless the same shall be suspended or modified or set aside by the Commission, or be suspended or set aside by a court of competent jurisdiction"; that no order issued in terms rescinding the order of April 13, 1922, had ever been entered; that by § 16a the mere reopening of the case by the Commission did not so operate; and that, as the Commission in ordering dismissal of the complaint did not refer to the order of April 13, 1922, the latter remained in full force. The contention is unsound. The order of December 22, 1922, dismissed the complaint without making any ...


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