HOUSTON & TEXAS R. CO. V. MAYES, 201 U. S. 321 (1906)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Houston & Texas R. Co. v. Mayes, 201 U.S. 321 (1906)

Houston & Texas Railroad Company v. Mayes

No. 198

Argued March 8, 1906

Decided April 2, 1906

201 U.S. 321


An absolute requirement that a railroad engaged in interstate commerce shall furnish a certain number of cars on a specified day to transport merchandise to another state, regardless of every other consideration except strikes and other public calamities, transcends the police power of the states and amounts to a burden upon interstate commerce, and Articles 4497-5000, Rev.Stat. Texas, being such a requirement, are, when applied to interstate commerce shipments, void as a violation of the commerce clause of the federal Constitution

Such a regulation cannot be sustained as to interstate commerce shipment as an exercise of the police power of the state.

This was an action begun by Mayes in the District Court of Llano County, Texas, against the Houston and Texas Central Railroad Company to recover a penalty of $475, by reason of defendant's failure to furnish seventeen stock cars, applied for in

Page 201 U. S. 322

writing by the plaintiff under the provisions of certain statutes of Texas hereinafter referred to for the purpose of shipping plaintiff's cattle from Llano, Texas, to Red Rock, Oklahoma, and for damages occasioned by defendant's negligence.

The petitioner alleged that the defendant company formed with two other railroad companies a continuous line from Llano to Red Rock, and were engaged as common carriers in the business of shipping livestock and other freight; that, on April 9, 1903, plaintiff, being the owner of six hundred and twenty-five head of cattle, made application in writing to the local agent of the road for seventeen stock cars, to be delivered on April 20, and deposited with the agent one-fourth of the freight on the same, namely, $268.82, promising to pay the remainder on demand, and that he afterwards paid the same; that, upon the day named, April 20, he had cattle sufficient to load the cars, delivered them to the defendant at its stock pens at Llano for shipment, but the defendant failed to furnish the cars, and did not furnish the same until the afternoon of the twenty-first of April, 1903.

The trial resulted in a judgment in favor of the plaintiff for $425 penalty for delay, and $500 damages to the stock while in the pens at Llano. This judgment was affirmed by the court of civil appeals, and an application for a writ of error to the supreme court of the state was overruled.

Page 201 U. S. 326

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