APPEALS FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Van Devanter, Pitney, McReynolds, Brandeis, Clarke
MR. JUSTICE PITNEY delivered the opinion of the court.
These four cases were consolidated for the purposes of the hearing in the District Court, and have been treated as consolidated for the purposes of the hearing on appeal. They are so closely related that they may be dealt with in a single opinion.
On July 18, 1908, the two railway companies concerned -- the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern, which for brevity may be called the Iron Mountain, and the St. Louis Southwestern, which may be called the Southwestern -- brought separate suits in equity in the Circuit Court (now the District Court) of the United States for the Eastern District of Arkansas against the members of the State Railroad Commission in their official capacity, and against two citizens of that State named as frequent shippers of freight upon the railroad lines, for injunctions to restrain the enforcement of certain intrastate freight and passenger rates; setting up that the commission was duly organized under an act of the legislature, and was thereby authorized to fix rates to be charged by the railroads in the State of Arkansas for the transportation of freight and passengers in that State; that the commission had officially adopted a tariff of freight rates applying to all classes and commodities of freight on all railroads operated in the State, and had ordered it to take effect on June 15, 1908; that the rates were unreasonable, unjust, discriminatory, confiscatory, and void; that they did not yield an adequate return for the services rendered; and that the operation of said tariff would deprive complainants of their property without due process of law and deny to them the equal protection of the laws, in violation of § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It was further alleged that the rates for the transportation of passengers in the State fixed by an act of the legislature passed February 9, 1907, and promulgated by order of the railroad commissioners, were confiscatory and void in their effect upon the complainant railways and, therefore, violative of the Fourteenth Amendment; but the passenger rates are not involved in the present appeals, and need not be further mentioned.
The jurisdiction of the federal court depended solely
upon the ground that the cases arose under the Constitution of the United States, and that the matter in controversy in each case exceeded the jurisdictional amount.
Temporary injunctions were issued in September, 1908, and continued in force during the pendency of the suits. The circuit court upon granting them ordered in each case that the complainant should execute a bond in the penal sum of $200,000, conditioned that complainant should keep a correct account respecting its carriage of passengers and freight, showing the difference between the tariff actually charged and that which would have been charged had the rate inhibited been applied, also showing the particulars of the carriage, and the names of the persons affected as far as practicable, the record to be kept subject to the further order of the court; and further conditioned that if it should eventually be decided that so much of the order as inhibited the enforcement of the rates ought not to have been made, the complainant should within a reasonable time to be fixed by the court refund in every instance to the party entitled the excess in charge over what would have been charged had the inhibited rates been applied, together with lawful interest and damages. Complainants entered into such bonds with sureties. Later an additional injunction bond was required to be and was furnished by each complainant, but without sureties, conditioned substantially as above.
Full answers having been filed by the railroad commission, and testimony having been taken, the cases were brought on to final hearing, and on May 11, 1911, final decrees were made, the same in both cases. They enjoined the commissioners and their successors, the individual shippers named as defendants, and all other patrons of the road in the shipment of freight between stations in the State of Arkansas, from enforcing or attempting to enforce any of the provisions of the freight tariff in question. In addition to this, and after disposing
of the question of costs, each decree ordered that the bond for injunction be released and the sureties thereon discharged from liability, and concluded as follows: "And the court reserves and retains unto itself jurisdiction of the subject matter of this suit and of all parties hereto, to the end that such other and further orders and decrees may be made herein as may become necessary by reason of any changed conditions as to the facts, equities or rights that may hereafter take place or arise."
The railroad commissioners appealed to this court (the defendant shippers having been severed), the cases were heard together, and the decrees of the circuit court were reversed June 16, 1913, with directions to dismiss the bills without prejudice. Allen v. St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Ry. Co., 230 U.S. 553. The causes were remanded to the district court, the mandate in each case reciting the reversal and the order remanding the cause with directions to dismiss the bill without prejudice, and concluding as follows. "You, therefore, are hereby commanded that such execution and further proceedings be had in said cause, in conformity with the opinion and decree of this Court, as according to right and justice, and the laws of the United States, ought to be had, the said appeal notwithstanding."
Upon the going down of the mandates the district court on July 18, 1913, entered decrees in obedience thereto dismissing the bills without prejudice and dissolving the injunctions; and at the same time and as a part of the same decrees made a reference under a rule of the court to a special master for the purpose of determining the damages alleged to have been sustained by the railroad commissioners by reason of the granting of the temporary and permanent injunctions, declaring: "That in determining these damages, for the recovery of which the said commissioners are not acting for themselves but for the benefit of all persons, shippers, consignees and passengers, who
have sustained any damages by reason of the granting of said injunctions," the master was authorized to examine witnesses and to give notice by publication that all persons having claims against the complainants by reason of the granting of the injunctions should present them within a time specified for the purpose.
Under this reference the appellants in cases Nos. 92 and 93 and the appellee in Nos. 94 and 95 intervened and presented claims for a refund of the difference paid by them in freight rates between the rates prescribed by the commission and those put in force by the railway companies. The master reported favorably upon these claims, dividing the amounts allowed into three periods, the first and second of which included the time elapsed between September 3, 1908, when the interlocutory injunctions were issued, and May 11, 1911, the date of the final decrees, and the third period included the time elapsed between the latter date and July 18, 1913, the date of the decrees entered upon the mandates. The railway companies filed exceptions to the master's report, which were sustained by the district court as to the claims involved in cases Nos. 92 and 93 and overruled as to those involved in Nos. 94 and 95, and a combined decree was made accordingly.
The parties aggrieved desiring to appeal, and being in doubt whether the appeal lay to this court or to the circuit court of appeals, prayed for and were allowed appeals to both courts. Hence the first question that confronts us is whether the decree is the subject of a direct appeal to this court.
We are clear that this question must be answered in the affirmative. The appeals from the final decrees in the main causes were brought direct to this court, because of the constitutional question, under § 5 of the Circuit Court of Appeals Act of March 3, 1891, c. ...