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U.S. Supreme Court

Union Stock Yard & Transit Co. v. United States, 308 U.S. 213 (1939)

Union Stock Yard & Transit Co. v. United States

No. 40

Argued November 10, 13, 1939

Decided December 4, 1939

308 U.S. 213


1. Transportation of livestock by rail begins with its delivery to the carrier for loading on its cars, and ends only after unloading, for delivery or tender to the consignee at the place of destination. P. 308 U. S. 219.

2. The Union Stock Yard and Transit Company of Chicago loads and unloads livestock using platforms and chutes which it owns and which are the necessary and only means of loading and unloading at its yard, to and from which the livestock is shipped interstate. Its charges to the railroads for these services are included in the charges for transportation collected by the railroads from the shippers. Its yard is the principal railroad terminal in Chicago for the receipt of livestock in carload lots. It holds itself out to the public as performing the loading and unloading service, and permits it to be performed by no other.

Held, that it is engaged in providing "terminal facilities" in the performance of "transportation service" and is a "common carrier . . . railroad" within the meaning of the Interstate Commerce Act, and as such its charges are subject to regulation by the Interstate Commerce Commission. P. 308 U. S. 219.

3. The Stock Yard Company is such a common carrier and is subject to regulation of its rates under the Act notwithstanding that, as an incident to the service it renders to shippers and to the line-haul carriers, it acts as agent of the latter, and notwithstanding that its terminal service includes no rail haul. Distinguishing Ellis v. Interstate Commerce Comm'n, 237 U. S. 434. P. 308 U. S. 220.

4. Inasmuch as the Interstate Commerce Act places the loading and unloading facilities and services under the authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission, they are excluded from the

Page 308 U. S. 214

jurisdiction of the Secretary of Agriculture under the Packers and Stockyards Act by the term of § 406 of the latter enactment. P. 308 U. S. 221.

5. To the issue whether the service rendered by the Stock Yard Company in loading and unloading livestock is such as to bring it within the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission, the practices by others at other yards are irrelevant, and their bearing on the administrative construction of the statute in the present circumstances is held too remote and indecisive to compel a burdensome inquiry by the Commission into collateral issues. P. 308 U. S. 222.

Mere inaction, through failure of the Commission to institute proceedings under § 15(7), is not an administrative ruling, and does not imply decision as to the Commission's jurisdiction.


Appeal from a decree dismissing a suit to set aside an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

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