UNION PACIFIC R. CO. V. MASON CITY & FT. D. R. CO., 199 U. S. 160 (1905)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Union Pacific R. Co. v. Mason City & Ft. D. R. Co., 199 U.S. 160 (1905)

Union Pacific Railroad Company v.

Mason City and Fort Dodge Railroad Company

No. 18

Argued October 1 and 20, 1905

Decided November 6, 1905

199 U.S. 160


A distinct ruling on any question fairly arising in a trial is not obiter dictum, and where the judgment rests upon two grounds, either being sufficient to sustain it, and the appellate court sustains it on both grounds, the ruling on neither is obiter, but each is the ruling of the court, and of equal validity with the other.

In construing an act of Congress granting permission to construct a bridge across a navigable river, the general policy of the government to provide for the use of such a bridge, up to its reasonable capacity, by all connecting railroads on reasonable compensation to the owning company will be considered, and accordingly so held in regard to the use by the Mason City Co. of the bridge across the Missouri River at Omaha, constructed under the act of 1871, 16 Stat. 430, and owned by the Union Pacific Railway.

In a great public enterprise such as the building of the Union Pacific Railroad under a Congressional charter reserving the right to alter, amend or repeal, public interests, and not simply private purposes, are to be regarded, and the purchaser at judicial foreclosure sale takes the property subject to the proper regulations and use established by Congress, notwithstanding the mortgage foreclosed may have antedated the legislation.

Where the language of the decree of the circuit court is open to misconstruction it should be corrected by the circuit court itself.

On a bill filed by the Mason City & Fort Dodge Railroad Company (hereinafter called the Mason City company), the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Nebraska entered a decree August 19, 1903, 124 F.4d 9, requiring the Union Pacific Railroad Company (hereinafter called the Union Pacific company) to let the plaintiff into the joint use of the railroad bridge between Omaha and Council Bluffs, and the approaches thereto. On appeal, this decree was affirmed

Page 199 U. S. 161

by the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, February 29, 1904. 128 F.2d 0. Thereupon the Union Pacific company appealed to this Court.

Page 199 U. S. 164

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