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In re Refusals of Federal Courts to
enforce the orders of the Interstate
In re Refusals of Federal Courts to
enforce the orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission:
Kentucky and Indiana Bridge Company Case.*
“The law never contemplated such results.”—Decision of the
Circuit Court in this case.
In this case the Commission entered an order in favor of the complainant which was not obeyed by the defendant and proceedings were instituted in the Circuit Court by the complainant before the Commission for the enforcement of the latter's order. The Circuit Court dismissed the complaint and no appeal was taken.
This is a leading case in the interpretation of the Interstate Commerce law, and has apparently settled for all time many important points as to the jurisdiction and powers conferred upon the Commission or which can constitutionally be conferred upon a body so constituted. These matters, however, are not germane to the present inquiry which is whether, on the whole, the result of the litigation was in accordance with substantial justice.
* The Kentucky and Indiana Bridge Company vs. The Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company; Inter. Com. Comm. (2 I.C.C. Rep. 162), decided August 2, 1888. The Kentucky and Indiana Bridge Company vs. The Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company; Circuit Court for the District of Kentucky (37 Fed. Rep. 567), decided January 7, 1889.
On June 5, 1872, the Louisville and Nashville, the Jeffersonville, Madison & Indianapolis, and the Ohio & Mississippi railway companies entered into a contract with the Louisville Bridge Company, a corporation with which the complainant in this case afterwards became a competitor, the contract stipulating, among other things, that the Ohio & Mississippi Railway would forward over the bridge of the Louisville Bridge Company “all the freight, passengers, mails, express matter, and other goods carried on and over their roads, to and from Louisville and to and from points which require their passage over the Ohio river at or near Louisville.” On September 26, 1886, the Ohio and Mississippi entered into a contract with the complainant, The Kentucky and Indiana Bridge Company, which contemplated the abandonment of the pre-existing contract of the former with the Louisville Bridge Company and the transfer of its business across the Ohio river near Louisville to the complainant. The continued use of the bridge of the Louisville Bridge Company by the Ohio and Mississippi, in accordance with its former contract, was decidedly to the advantage of the defendant. In order to compel such use the defendant refused to interchange traffic with the complainant at Seventh street and Magnolia avenue in Louisville, where their lines were physically connected, and demanded that such traffic be delivered at one or the other of its four freight yards in the city of Louisville. The complaint was brought by the Kentucky and Indiana Bridge Company for the purpose of compelling interchange at Seventh street and Magnolia avenue and was really intended to compel the defendant to permit the Ohio & Mississippi, which was not a party to the action, to do that which was in violation of its contract with the defendant. The order of the Commission would have produced this result, and the refusal of the Circuit Court to enforce that order was therefore a refusal to use the process of that Court to aid in the violation of a contract. The following is from the decision of Judge Jackson:
“While the Ohio and Mississippi Railway Company is not an actual party to this controversy, which this court is required to hear and determine as a court of equity, it is however, perfectly manifest that this proceeding, as well as that before the Commission, is intended for the private benefit not merely of petitioner, but of the Ohio & Mississippi Railway Company; and its object is to relieve the latter from the contract of June 5, 1872, in order that petitioner may secure from it the rental stipulated to be paid for the use