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U.S. Supreme Court

Pan American Petroleum Corp. v. Superior Court, 366 U.S. 656 (1961)

Pan American Petroleum Corp. v. Superior Court

of Delaware for New Castle County

No. 80

Argued April 18-19, 1961

Decided May 29, 1961*

366 U.S. 656


After this Court's decision in Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Wisconsin, 347 U. S. 672, holding that the jurisdiction of the Federal Power Commission extended to

"the rates of all wholesales of natural gas in interstate commerce, whether by a pipeline company or not and whether occurring before, during, or after transmission by an interstate pipeline company,"

and its decision invalidating an order of the Kansas Corporation Commission fixing a minimum price for gas taken from the Kansas Hugoton Field, Cities Service Gas Co. v. State Corporation Comm'n, 355 U. S. 391, an interstate natural gas pipeline company sued producers of gas from that field in a Delaware State Court to recover for overpayments for such gas made under compulsion of the Kansas order, such refunds having been agreed upon between the parties shortly after entry of the Kansas order. The producers petitioned the Supreme Court of Delaware for writs of prohibition attacking the jurisdiction of the trial court in which the suits were pending. The State Supreme Court sustained the jurisdiction of the trial court and denied the writs.

Held: notwithstanding provisions of the Natural Gas Act giving federal district courts exclusive jurisdiction of all suits to enforce liabilities created by that Act and lodging in federal courts of appeals jurisdiction to review orders of the Federal Power Commission, the State Court had jurisdiction, since the suits were not founded upon the Act, but upon contract and restitution claims under state law. Pp. 366 U. S. 657-666.

52 Del. ___, 158 A.2d 478, affirmed.

Page 366 U. S. 657

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