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AMERICAN EXPRESS COMPANY v. UNITED STATES. NATIONAL EXPRESS COMPANY V. SAME. UNITED STATES EXPRESS COMPANY V. SAME. WELLS

decided: February 23, 1909.

AMERICAN EXPRESS COMPANY
v.
UNITED STATES.

NATIONAL EXPRESS COMPANY
v.
SAME.

UNITED STATES EXPRESS COMPANY
v.
SAME.

WELLS, FARGO AND COMPANY
v.
SAME.

ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY
v.
SAME.



APPEALS FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS.

Author: Day

[ 212 U.S. Page 528]

 MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the court.

These cases are appeals from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois and were submitted upon oral argument and printed record and briefs in No. 405. They involve the same question and hence will be disposed of together. The petition was filed in the Circuit Court under the third section of the Elkins act, February 19, 1903, c. 708, 32 Stat. 847, providing for the institution of such suit whenever the Interstate Commerce Commission shall have reasonable grounds for believing that any common carrier is engaged in the carriage of passengers or freight traffic between given points at less than the published rates on file, or is granting any discrimination forbidden by law.

An injunction was issued restraining the express companies from "issuing any frank or other document for the free transportation of property to the following persons, to wit: the officers, agents, attorneys, and employes of said defendant and their respective families; the officers and employes of other express companies and their respective families; the officers and employes of any railroad or any other common carrier subject to the act to regulate commerce and its amendments, and their respective families; or to any of said persons; and from transporting

[ 212 U.S. Page 529]

     and forwarding for said persons above named or any of them, without demanding and receiving the lawful rate of payment therefor, any shipments of property subject to the provisions of said interstate commerce act and its amendments."

The facts are not seriously in dispute and were stipulated at the trial and show that it has been the custom of express companies for many years to issue franks such as are embraced in the injunction. These franks were not issued except to officers and employes of the companies and their families, and to the officers and employes of other express companies and transportation companies and members of their families, in exchange for passes issued by the latter companies to the officers and employes of the express companies. The franks provided that they should not be used for business packages or for transportation of extra heavy weight, money, bonds, jewelry, live stock, or business consignments, and only for the personal packages of the holder of such frank, he being required to assume all risk of loss or damage from whatever cause to property carried under the frank.

The question is, Does the Interstate Commerce law prohibit express companies from giving free transportation of personal packages to their officers and employes and members of their families, and to the officers of other transportation companies and members of their families in exchange for passes issued by the latter to the officers of the express companies? The Circuit Court held the affirmative of this proposition.

It is the contention of the Government that such transportation is forbidden by § 2 of the act of February 4, 1889, c. 104, 24 Stat. 379, forbidding the transportation of property or passengers subject to the provisions of the act for any person for a greater or less compensation for any service rendered or to be rendered, in the transportation of passengers or property, than it charges, demands, collects, or receives from any other person for doing for him the like service, and by § 3 of the same act (24 Stat. 379, 380) which makes it unlawful to give any undue preference or advantage to any particular persons or

[ 212 U.S. Page 530]

     locality, and by the provisions of the Elkins act hereafter quoted.

Without considering whether the case at bar is covered by the sections of the Interstate Commerce act referred to, an injunction is authorized under § 3 of the Elkins act, where a common carrier is engaged in the carriage of passengers or freight at less than the published rate on file, and we shall limit our attention to certain provisions of the Elkins law in this connection. Section 1 of the Elkins act provides (as amended by the Hepburn act, June 29, 1906, c. 3591, 34 Stat. 584, 587):

"The wilful failure upon the part of any carrier subject to said acts to file and publish the tariffs or rates and charges as required by said acts, or strictly to observe such tariffs until changed according to law, shall be a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof the corporation offending shall be subject to a fine of not ...


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