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decided: January 18, 1943.



Stone, Roberts, Black, Reed, Frankfurter, Douglas, Murphy, Jackson, Rutledge

Author: Jackson

[ 318 U.S. Page 2]

 MR. JUSTICE JACKSON delivered the opinion of the Court.

Appellant is a corporation engaged in performing terminal services and furnishing terminal facilities in and about East St. Louis, Illinois, to a number of railroad companies which share its ownership and control. It operates several yards for the sorting and classification and interchange of cars, with some service to industries within the switching district.

The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, one of the appellees, representing trainmen and switchmen employed by appellant, complained to the Illinois Commerce Commission of appellant's failure to provide caboose cars for its employees. In answer the appellant denied that the Commission had power to enter any order that would relate to movements in interstate commerce, which it said included substantially all of its operations; and it contended further that it had already provided all reasonably necessary facilities. The issues were sharply contested before the Commission, and the evidence, while it may not have required, certainly permitted these conclusions:

Appellant's switching crews make and break up trains of cars and deliver and transfer them. One man of each crew is required to ride the rear car of the train when it is in motion. Depending upon the distances by which fixed structures along the track clear this car, he rides its top or side, and in some places both top and side clearances are so small that he must ride on the drawbar projecting from the end of the car. Sudden jerks and stops are common and they have on occasion thrown off switchmen. The duties of the rear switchman include lining switches into position after the train has passed and watching street and highway crossings to protect the public when the train is backing up. In cases of emergency he must stop the train by turning an air valve located next to the drawbar, which he cannot readily or safely do if he is riding on the top or side of the car.

During some seasons of the year he is exposed to rain, sleet, snow and ice, which also cover the parts of the car to which he must cling to stay on it, thus adding to his difficulties.

Appellant's trains, when not equipped with cabooses, have no storage space for safety devices, flagging equipment, or for extra clothing, lunches and drinking water of the men; and they provide no space in which the men can perform their clerical duties.

The Commission found that by providing cabooses the appellant could eliminate the necessity for the rear switchmen to ride the tops, sides, or draw-bars of the rear cars; afford safe and ready access to the air valve; and provide space for storage and for clerical work. It found that it was essential to the health, safety, and comfort of the rear switchmen that the appellant provide cabooses on all of designated runs in so far as they were within the confines of the State, and made its order accordingly. The order was sustained by the Supreme Court of Illinois as "obviously promulgated to protect the lives and health of citizens of this State engaged in appellee's business within the State," and as not imposing an unlawful

[ 318 U.S. Page 4]

     burden upon interstate commerce.*fn1 The case is here on appeal.*fn2

All but an insignificant number of the cars in the trains on the specified runs move in interstate commerce, so that the order pertained to a matter clearly within the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce.

Appellant claims that there had been Congressional occupation of the field by virtue of the Boiler Inspection Act,*fn3 the Safety Appliance Act,*fn4 and the Interstate Commerce Act.*fn5 It is not contended, nor do we understand, that these statutes, by themselves and unimplemented by any action of the Interstate Commerce Commission, lay down any requirement that cabooses shall or shall not be used on any of the runs in question. Nor is it contended that the Interstate Commerce Commission itself has sought to make any such requirement. At least in the absence of such action these Acts do not themselves preclude the state order, Atlantic Coast Line v. Georgia, 234 U.S. 280; cf. Welch Co. v. New Hampshire, 306 U.S. 79, and it is unnecessary to consider on this occasion and without the participation of the Interstate Commerce ...

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