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WORSTER MOTOR LINES, INC. v. UNITED STATES

November 27, 1963

WORSTER MOTOR LINES, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES of America, Interstate Commerce Commission, and Midwest Coast Transport, Inc., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLSON

This action was brought by Worster Motor Lines, Inc., (Worster) to permanently enjoin, annul and set aside an Order of the Interstate Commerce Commission. A three judge court was convened to hear and determine this matter pursuant to the provisions of Section 2284 of Title 28 United States Code.

The Midwest Coast Transport, Inc., (Midwest) sought certificates of public convenience and necessity authorizing it to operate as a common carrier motor vehicle over irregular routes in interstate commerce:

 (a) In Sub 118 of frozen foods from Caribou, Maine to points in New York State and in the midwest. The exact routes will be mentioned hereafter.

 (b) In Sub 126 of frozen foods from Aroostook County, Maine to various points in the midwest, and foodstuffs from Milton, Pennsylvania to points in New England.

 Several protestants opposed each application. One common to both was plaintiff herein.

 In sub 126 the examiner, after partially denying the petition, recommended that applicant be granted irregular route common carrier authority to transport frozen foods. The Commission affirmed, holding that present and future public convenience and necessity required the operation by Midwest as a common carrier over the certain specified routes.

 Petitions for reconsideration were filed by protestants Worster and Refrigerated Food Express, Inc., (RFX). The proceedings were reopened on protestants' petitions and a final report was issued by the Commission under date of January 4, 1963, granting Midwest rights as follows:

 To operate in interstate commerce as a common carrier by motor vehicle over irregular routes, (1) in Sub 118 of frozen potatoes and frozen potato products from Greencastle, Pennsylvania to Waseca, Minnesota, and (2) in Sub 126 of (a) frozen potatoes and frozen potato products from Presque Isle and Easten, Maine to points in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and in the midwest, and (b) frozen prepared foods from Milton, Pennsylvania to points in New England.

 In reaching its findings and conclusion the Commission interpreted Worster's common carrier rights to the effect that Worster does not hold certificates covering the carriage of frozen potatoes and frozen food products.

 The nub of plaintiff's complaint is that in granting the application of Midwest for certificates of public convenience and necessity the Commission partially revoked plaintiff's authority. Plaintiff states the issue as follows:

 'Did the Commission properly decide in these cases in which Worster was only a protestant, that its authority to transport frozen vegetables as granted prior to the amendments to the Interstate Commerce Act contained in the Transportation Act of 1958 did not include the right to transport frozen potatoes and frozen food products?'

 Plaintiff, in its complaint, says, inter alia, that its certificates were issued before the Transportation Act of 1958; that it was denied due process when its operating authority was restricted by interpretation in a case in which it was only a protestant; and that it was denied due process when its certificates were partially revoked without notice and without full opportunity to be heard.

 It is not the function of this Court to examine the evidence before the Commission in an application of this kind and substitute its judgment for that of the Commission. The weight of the evidence is for the Commission. This Court must sustain the Commission if its findings are supported by substantial evidence. C.I.R. v. Fisher, 327 U.S. 512, 66 S. Ct. 686, 90 L. Ed. 818, 1946; Yourga v. United States, 191 F.Supp. 373 (W.D.Pa., 1961). It is also agreed that the function of this Court is limited. 'Unless in some specific respect there has been prejudicial departure from requirements of the law or abuse of the Commission's discretion, the reviewing court is without authority to intervene.' United States v. Pierce Auto Freight Lines, 327 U.S. 515, 66 S. Ct. 687, 90 L. Ed. 821, 1946. The Supreme Court of the United States has said in Universal Camera Corporation v. National Labor Relations Board, 340 U.S. 474, 496, 71 S. Ct. 456, 95 L. Ed. 456, 1951, that the findings of the Commission must be sustained if supported by substantial evidence viewing the ...


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