Page images
[blocks in formation]

Complaint was made by Philip Reinsch before the commission, charging the St. Louis Southwestern Railway Company with having violated this rule, in that it was fifty-one freight cars short in complying with written applications made at various times in October, November and December, 1905, and January, 1906, for the delivery at a station called Stutt

and its final destination, the railroad company shall furnish same within five days from 7 o'clock a. m. the day following such application. Provided, that when a shipper orders a car or cars and does not use the same, he shall pay demurrage for such time as he holds the car or cars, at the rate of $1.00 per car per day, dating from 7 o'clock a. m. after the car or cars are placed.

Or, when the shipper making such application specifies a future day on which he desires to make a shipment, giving not less than five days' notice thereof, computing from 7 o'clock a. m. the day following such application, the railroad company shall furnish such car or cars on the day specified in the application.

When freight in carloads or less is tendered to a railroad company, and correct shipping instructions given, the railroad agent must immediately receive the same for shipment, and issue bills of lading therefor, and whenever such shipments have been so received by any railroad company, they must be carried forward at the rate of not less than fifty miles per day of twenty-four hours, computing from 7 o'clock a. m. the second day following receipt of shipment. Provided, that in computing the time of freight in transit there shall be allowed twenty-four hours at each point where transferring from one railroad to another, or rehandling freight is involved.

The period during which the movement of freight is suspended on account of accident, or any cause not within the power of the railroad company to prevent, shall be added to the free time allowed in this rule, and counted as additional free time.

The commission reserves the right on its own motion to suspend the operation of these rules, or any one or more of them, in whole or in part, whenever it shall appear that justice demands such action, and the commission will, upon complaint, hear and act upon applications for a like suspension.

Nothing in these rules shall apply to shipment of live stock and perishable freight where the rules of this commission or the laws of the State require the more prompt furnishing of cars or movement of freight than provided for by these rules.

[blocks in formation]

gart, of a much larger number of freight cars. The commission found that the railway company was short in the delivery of cars as alleged, and that its failures in that respect not only violated Order No. 305, previously referred to, but also $ 10 of an act of March 11, 1899, embodied in Kirby's Digest as 8 6803. It also declared that by these violations of the statute and rule of the commission the railway company had become subject to penalties in favor of the State of Arkansas, as provided in 18 of the act of 1899, being $ 6813 of Kirby's Digest, which penalties were to be enforced as therein provided. Conformably to the section in question the prosecuting attorney for the proper county commenced this action in the name of the State against the railway company to recover penalties to the amount of $1,950. Rule No. 305 of the commission was recited, the proceedings before the commission were detailed, and the order made by the commission finding the defaults on the part of the railway company was set out, and upon these considerations the prayer for the statutory penalty was based.

A demurrer having been overruled, an answer was filed on behalf of the railway company. By that answer it was alleged that the company was engaged in the transportation of interstate shipments of freight over its line of railroad in the States of Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana and Missouri, and that its equipment of freight cars for the transaction of its business, both interstate and state, was ample. That, anticipating the possible increase of business, both interstate and state, and as a precautionary measure, the company had, prior to the autumn of 1905, endeavored to contract for the construction of a large number of additional freight cars, but failed to do so, because the car manufacturers had such a press of work that they were unable to take the order. That thereupon, in an effort to provide for every future contingency, the corpo ration had at a very large expense commenced the construction of a plant of large capacity to enable it to manufacture its own cars and was pressing the same to completion in the

[blocks in formation]

shortest possible time. It was alleged that at the time of the alleged defaults there was an extraordinary demand for cars, both for the movement of interstate and local traffic, and when, as the result of this condition, the shortage developed the company had equally distributed its cars to the shippers along its line, giving no preference to interstate over local shiprers or to local over those desiring cars for interstate shipments. It was alleged that it would have been impossible for the company to comply with rule No. 305 without discriminating against its interstate comnerce shippers, and therefore obedience to the rule would have resulted in a direct burden upon interstate commerce. Referring to the interstate commerce business of the company, which it was alleged moved over its own line through the States of Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana and Missouri, and thence by connecting roads throughout the United States and Canada, it was charged the burden imposed upon the company to deliver cars to local shippers without reference to the effect und operation of such delivery upon the interstate commerce business of the company would be a direct burden uron interstate commerce, and therefore repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, and that the same result would flow from enforcing the command of the commission as embodied in its rule No. 305. The rule, moreover, was especially assailed as being repugnant not only to the commerce clause, but to the Fourteenth Amendment, both because of the inherent nature of the duty which the rule sought to impose, and also because of the unreasonable conditions which were expressed therein.

There was a trial to a jury. Without going into detail it suffices to say that specific instructions were asked, in reiterated form, by the defendant company concerning its asserted defenses under the Constitution of the United States; that is, the repugnancy to the Constitution of the rule of the commission and of the statute imposing penalties iipon it for its failure to furnish cars. After verdict against the company for $1,350 and judgment thereon, the cause was taken to the

[blocks in formation]

Supreme Court of the State of Arkansas, and from the action of that court in affirming the judgment (85 Arkansas, 311) this writ of error is prosecuted.

The question for decision will be simplified by analyzing the action of the court below—that is, by stating the facts which it deemed were established, and by precisely fixing the issues and principles governing the same which the court stated and applied. Clearing the way to consider the proposition which it conceived the case involved in its fundamental aspect, the Supreme Court of Arkansas at once disposed of the contention that the commission was without power to adopt rule No. 305 by the statement that the power to do so was expressly conferred by statutes of the State. The court did not pass on the contentions concerning the alleged conflict between the rule and the Constitution of the United States, because it was expressly declared that it was not at all necessary to do so. This was based upon the conclusion that the duty to furnish the cars which had been demanded arose from statutory provisions (Kirby's Digest, $86803-6804), which were but expressive of the common law, and that the liability for the penalty which was imposed by the judgment below equally resulted, considering the default as alone arising from violations of the statutory duty.

The statutory duty to supply cars on application having been thus ascertained and the failure of the company to furnish after demand not being disputed, the court was brought to consider what it declared to be the only question in the case, that is, “Whether the undisputed evidence introduced by appellant presented a sufficient excuse for the failure to furnish the cars." In so far as adequate excuse could arise from the complete discharge by the company of the duty to equip its road with a sufficient number of cars, it was recognized that the proof was ample, indeed the court said:

“In fact, the appellant was shown to have a larger car equipment thar the average freight carrying road, and the failure to furnish cars was wholly due to an inability to regain

[blocks in formation]

its cars which were sent to other roads carrying freight from its own line."

Coming then to state the facts concerning the cause which the court expressly found was wholly responsible for the failure to deliver all the cars asked for, it was pointed out:

"The appellant is an originating line, originating about 70 per cent of its traffic and receiving about 30 per cent. To illustrate its situation, during the month of November, 1905, it had in revenue service 9,517 cars, of which it averaged daily 3,98? in use on its own lines, 5,525 off its line, and 2,519 foreign cars in use. In other words, a daily balance of exchange of 1,473 cars was against it, and its shortage in cars was only about 650 per day.”

Directing attention to the fact that the preponderant originating business cf the road led to a preponderance of interstate over domestic or local traffic, and that such interstate traific would be greatly impeded, if not paralyzed, by breaking bulk at the state line and refusing to give continuous transportation by not allowing its cars when loaded to move beyond its line to the roads of connecting carriers, the court was brought to consider whether, thus permitting the cars to move for the purpose of continuous interstate commerce traffic, was in and of itself a fault entailing legal responsibility under the statute for a refusal to deliver cars for local traffic when requested. In holding the negative of this proposition we court seid:

“The eviden“o indisputably establishes that it is a benefit te the shipping public to interchange cars and not to refuse to send cars of the line.

It is unquestionably good for the public that the railroads of the United States have a system of interchange of cars, instead of each road hauling to its termini only, and thereby force reloading and reshipment. The inconvenience and expense of such a system would at once condemn it as failing to meet public requirements. It is unquestionably the policy of both State and Federal legislation to facilitate, if not require, an interchange


« PreviousContinue »