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U.S. Supreme Court

Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Ry. Co. v. United States, 290 U.S. 127 (1933)

Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Ry. Co. v. United States

No. 8

Argued October 16, 17, 1933

Decided November 20, 1933

290 U.S. 127


1. Money paid out by the Government as the result of deliberate construction of a statute on a question of known importance and difficulty was not paid "by mistake," even if the construction was erroneous. P. 290 U. S. 134.

2. In adjudicating the rights of carriers to the bounty granted by § 204 of the Transportation Act, 1920, the Interstate Commerce Commission sits as a special tribunal, whose decisions are not appealable and bind the Government as well as the claimants. Pp. 290 U. S. 135, 290 U. S. 142.

3. In the performance of its functions as such tribunal, the Commission necessarily has jurisdiction to decide questions of the construction of the statute upon which depend the merits of the claims before it. P. 290 U. S. 136.

4. Where award and payment have been made, the Government cannot recover the money upon the ground that the Commission misconstrued a provision of the statute respecting the merits of the claim. Pp. 290 U. S. 136, 290 U. S. 141.

5. Among other conditions to relief expressed in § 204, supra, is that the carrier shall have "sustained a deficit in its railway operating income for that portion . . . of the period of federal control during which it operated its own railroad." Held, that the question whether a "deficit" was sustained when operation was without actual or "red ink" loss, but with a less favorable balance than during the "test period" preceding federal control, was a question going to the merits of a carrier's claim, and not to the Commission's jurisdiction over it. P. 290 U. S. 136.

61 F.2d 587 reversed.

Page 290 U. S. 128

Certiorari, 289 U.S. 717, to review the affirmance of a judgment for the United States, entered on the pleadings, in an action to recover, with interest, money paid to the railway company on an award of the Interstate Commerce Commission under § 204 of the Transportation Act, 1920.

Page 290 U. S. 132

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