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U.S. Supreme Court

Keogh v. Chicago & Northwestern Ry. Co., 260 U.S. 156 (1922)

Keogh v. Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company

No. 51

Argued October 12, 1922

Decided November 13, 1922

260 U.S. 156


1. Approval of rates as reasonable and nondiscriminatory by the Interstate Commerce Commission fixes their character as such in relation to a shipper who took part in the proceedings. P. 260 U. S. 161.

2. A combination of carriers to fix rates may be illegal and subject to proceedings by the government under the Anti-Trust Act even though the rates are reasonable and nondiscriminatory, and, it seems, even though they have been approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission. P. 260 U. S. 161.

3. But a private shipper cannot recover damages from the carriers in such a case, under § 7 of the Anti-Trust Act, upon the ground that he lost the benefit of rates still lower which, but for the conspiracy, he would have enjoyed, because:

(a) The fact that a rate results from a conspiracy in violation of the Anti-Trust Act does not render it necessarily illegal, and, as the legality of rates is determined by the Act to Regulate Commerce, and the shipper who suffers from illegal (unreasonable or discriminatory) rates has his remedy in damages under that act, it seems that Congress did not intend to provide him a further remedy for such illegal rates under § 7 of the Anti-Trust Act, and a fortiori none where the rates fixed by the conspiracy were found legal by the Commission. P. 260 U. S. 162.

(b) The right of action given by § 7 of the Anti-Trust Act to one "injured in his business or property" implies violation of a legal right, but the legal right of a shipper respecting a carrier's rates is measured by the published tariff, and, to enforce a departure from this through a recovery under § 7 would be in effect to give the shipper an illegal preference. P. 260 U. S. 163.

(c) Recovery would depend upon the plaintiff's proving that lower rates which, but for the conspiracy, the carriers would have maintained would have been nondiscriminatory -- a question which generically must first be submitted to the Interstate Commerce Commission, yet which, specifically, is not within its cognizance, because hypothetical. P. 260 U. S. 163.

Page 260 U. S. 157

(d) The damages, if any, resulting to the shipper from the establishment of the higher rates could not be proved by facts from which their existence and amount were logically and legally inferable, but are purely speculative. P. 260 U. S. 164.

271 F.4d 4, affirmed.

Error to a judgment of the circuit court of appeals affirming a judgment of the district court for defendant railroad companies and individuals in an action brought by Keogh under § 7 of the Anti-Trust Act to recover damages alleged to have resulted from a combination to fix railroad rates in restraint of interstate commerce.

Page 260 U. S. 159

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