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U.S. Supreme Court

Mitchell Coal & Coke Co. v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 230 U.S. 247 (1913)

Mitchell Coal & Coke Company v.

Pennsylvania Railroad Company

No. 674

Submitted December 4, 1912

Decided June 9, 1913

230 U.S. 247


Pennsylvania Railroad Co. v. International Coal Co., ante, p. 230 U. S. 184, followed to effect that the courts have jurisdiction of a case brought by a shipper against a carrier for the amount of damages actually sustained by him for charging him the full tariff when it was carrying the same goods the same distance for other shippers at lower rates, but that such damages must be sustained by proof as to the amount thereof.

The courts have not jurisdiction of a suit brought by a shipper against a carrier for damages by reason of paying other shippers of similar

Page 230 U. S. 248

goods an unreasonable amount for services in connection with such transportation, unless and until there has been a finding by the Interstate Commerce Commission that the payments so made to the other shippers were unreasonably large.

A carrier has the right under the Act to Regulate Commerce to pay shippers a reasonable allowance for services in connection with transportation of goods shipped by them, and the allowance paid must be treated by the courts as prima facie reasonable until the Interstate Commerce Commission has determined otherwise.

When the case is here on a question of jurisdiction only, this Court cannot pass upon questions which go to the merits.

There is a necessity, which is recognized by the Act to Regulate Commerce, of having questions as to reasonableness of rates and allowances settled by a single tribunal in order to avoid the conflicting decisions which would result if several different tribunals could pass upon the same question, and the act itself has designated the Interstate Commerce Commission as that tribunal.

Allowances for lateral hauling may be lawfully paid, as they become unlawful only when unreasonable; whether unreasonable either past or future is a rate-making question over which the courts have no jurisdiction, even if the parties attempt to give it by consent.

This action, having been commenced without any application's having been made to the Interstate Commerce Commission to declare unreasonable the allowances paid by the carrier for lateral hauling, the case must be remanded for dismissal, but the dismissal is stayed to give plaintiff an opportunity to make such application with the right to the carrier to be heard on the defense of limitations, as well as other defenses.

192 F.4d 5 affirmed in part and reversed in part.

The tacts are stated in the opinion.

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