SOUTHERN RAILWAY CO. V. TIFT, 206 U. S. 428 (1907)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Southern Railway Co. v. Tift, 206 U.S. 428 (1907)

Southern Railway Company v. Tift

No. 601

Argued April 22, 23, 1907

Decided May 27, 1907

206 U.S. 428


Although an action at law for damages to recover unreasonable railroad rates which have been exacted in accordance with the schedule of rates as filed is forbidden by the Interstate Commerce Act (Texas & Pacific Railway Co. v. Abilene Cotton Co., 204 U. S. 426), the Circuit Court may entertain jurisdiction of a bill in equity to restrain the filing or enforcement of a schedule of unreasonable rates or a change to unjust or unreasonable rates.

Where, as in this case, the Circuit Court granted no relief on the original bill prejudicial to the railway company, but sent the parties to the Interstate Commerce Commission, and afterwards rendered a decree based upon the findings and conclusions of that commission and testimony adduced before it, which was stipulated into the case, this Court will not reverse the decree, as affirmed by the circuit court of appeals, either because the circuit court was without jurisdiction or because an order of reference in the case was too broad in requiring the master to ascertain the amounts paid by shippers in increased rates after the schedules sought to be enjoined went into effect.

Although reparation for excess rates must be obtained in a proceeding before the Interstate Commerce Commission, the parties to an action brought under § 16 of the Interstate Commerce Act may stipulate after the commission has declared the rate complained of to be excessive that the court adjudge the amount of reparation, and presumably, after the master has reported, the court will make the reparation adequate for the injury and award only the advance on the old rate and to those who are parties to the cause.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 206 U. S. 433

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