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UNITED STATES AMERICA v. PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION. (09/30/57)

September 30, 1957

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLANT,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION.



Appeal, No. 27, Oct. T., 1955, from orders of Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission at Investigation Docket No. 24, in case of United States of America v. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Orders affirmed.

COUNSEL

E. Riggs McConnell, with him James E. Kilday, Victor R. Hansen, Assistant Attorney General, and W. Wilson White, United States Attorney, for appellant.

Jack F. Aschinger, Assistant Counsel, with him Thomas M. Kerrigan, Acting Counsel, for Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, and Watkins, JJ.

Author: Rhodes

[ 184 Pa. Super. Page 383]

OPINION BY RHODES, P.J.

The basic issue in this appeal is whether the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission may lawfully regulate rates charged by a common carrier on wholly intrastate shipments of property of the United States of America.

On November 16, 1953, the commission, on its own motion, instituted an inquiry and investigation for the purpose of determining whether The Pennsylvania Railroad Company was transporting property free or at reduced rates for federal agencies or at charges other than as provided in its officially filed tariffs in violation of sections 303 and 304 of the Public Utility Law of May 28, 1937, P.L. 1053, 66 PS ยงยง 1143, 1144. The company filed an answer admitting that it offered to transport property for the United States at rates other than those published in its tariffs, but denying the violation of sections 303 and 304 of the Law. An initial hearing was held on March 22, 1954. The commission granted the petition of the United States to intervene. On June 15, 1954, the commission entered an order in which it found: "In the absence of express statutory authority to the contrary, transportation of property for State or Federal Government is within the scope of the [Public Utility] law." Accordingly, the commission ordered: "That The Pennsylvania Railroad Company cease and desist transportation of property for the Federal Government, or its agencies, at rates other than provided in its tariffs filed with the Commission." A petition of the United States for rehearing was refused. The United States appealed to this Court, and upon petition we remanded the record to the commission for further study and consideration, for supplementation of the record, to make specific findings of fact in detail, and to enter such an order as may be deemed just and proper in the premises. At

[ 184 Pa. Super. Page 384]

    the remand hearing the United States presented evidence of its practices and problems in the transportation field as it relates to the matter of regulation of the common carriers used.On July 2, 1956, the commission affirmed its order of June 15, 1954, asserting its jurisdiction over the matter and enjoining the railroad from charging rates other than those in its tariffs filed with the commission. The matter is now before us on the appeal of the United States.

Appellant presents two questions for our consideration: "1. Does the Public Utility Law of Pennsylvania prohibit carriers from transporting property of the United States between points in the state at rates other than those contained in published tariffs? 2. Is a state statute which confers upon a state Commission the power to regulate the rates for the shipment of the property of the United States between points in the state unconstitutional?"

We observe that these questions are similar to those which were before us in Penn Dairies, Inc. v. Milk Control Commission of Pennsylvania, 148 Pa. Superior Ct. 261, 24 A.2d 717, wherein we held that the sale of milk to the United States was subject to the minimum price fixed by the Milk Control Commission, and that such regulation was not unconstitutional. Our decision in the Penn Dairies case was affirmed on appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (344 Pa. 635, 26 A.2d 431) and by the United States Supreme Court (318 U.S. 261, 63 ...


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