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U.S. Supreme Court

Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Cook Brewing Co., 223 U.S. 70 (1912)

Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co, v. F. W. Cook Brewing Co.

No. 64

Submitted November 13, 1911

Decided January 22, 1912

223 U.S. 70


This Court has jurisdiction of an appeal from the Circuit Court of Appeals in this case, as the jurisdiction of the circuit court did not depend only on diversity of citizenship, but the constitutionality of a state law and the construction of a federal statute were also involved.

Where relief in equity may be admissible under any circumstances at all, the objection of adequate remedy at law comes too late when made for the first time in this Court.

Where a common carrier threatens to abjure its functions and duties as such in regard to a commodity, equity can grant relief to a dealer in such commodity whose business would be ruined by such continual action by the common carrier.

Beer and other intoxicating liquors are a recognized and legitimate subjects of interstate commerce. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 223 U. S. 71

A state cannot forbid a common carrier to transport intoxicating liquors from a consignor in one state to a consignee in another state.

Until transportation of intoxicating liquor from one state to another is concluded by delivery to the consignee, the article transported does not become subject to state regulation.

The Wilson Act of August 8, 1890, c. 728, 26 Stat. 313, does not apply to interstate shipments of liquor until delivery to the consignee.

The Kentucky statute of 1906 prohibiting common carriers from transporting intoxicating liquors to "dry" points in Kentucky, while a valid enactment as to intrastate shipments, was not effective as to interstate shipments; in that respect, it was an unconstitutional interference with interstate commerce.

A state statute regulating shipments of common carriers, although legal as to intrastate shipments, if illegal as to interstate shipments imposes no obligation upon the carrier in regard thereto, nor affords any excuse for refusal to perform its duties as a carrier.

Where the action of the common carrier is not discriminatory and the question is not an administrative one within the scope of the Interstate Commerce Commission, a question of general law as to the duties of the carrier arises which is one for a judicial tribunal, and not competent for the Commission, and the fact that the carrier may have filed notice with the Commission does not give it jurisdiction of the subject.

Where reasonableness of, or discrimination in, rates is not an element, but the common carrier bases a refusal to perform its duty as such on legislative enactments, a shipper can resort to the courts to compel him to do so without first obtaining a finding from the Interstate Commerce Commission. Texas & Pacific Railway v. Abilene Cotton Oil Co., 204 U. S. 246, distinguished.

172 F.1d 7 affirmed.

This suit started in a court of the State of Indiana, and was removed by the defendant, now the appellant, to the circuit court of the United States.

The brewing company is an Indiana corporation, engaged in brewing beer at Evansville, Indiana, and sells its product in state and interstate trade. The railroad company is a Kentucky corporation, owning and operating a line of railway extending into many states, including Indiana and Kentucky. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 223 U. S. 72

The complaint averred that, although prepayment of freight had been tendered and every shipping regulation complied with, the railroad company had refused to accept for carriage from Evansville, Indiana, to stations on the line of its railway in the State of Kentucky, beer in kegs and cases, consigned to points which were "local option" or "dry" localities under the law of Kentucky, and had notified complainant and the public that it would discontinue receiving consignments of beer or other liquors for points in the State of Kentucky where the local option law of that state was in operation. The prayer of the bill was that the railroad company be enjoined from so refusing to accept the product of the brewing company for transportation from Evansville to such local option points in Kentucky.

A preliminary injunction was issued as prayed. Thereupon the defendant removed the case to the circuit court of the United States upon the ground that there was diversity of citizenship, and also because the case involved questions arising under the Constitution and laws of the United States -- namely, the validity of the law of Kentucky prohibiting the transportation and delivery of liquors to points in that state where the sale was prohibited, and also as a case arising under the act of Congress regulating interstate commerce of February 4, 1887, 24 Stat. 379, c. 104, as amended June 29, 1906, 34 Stat. 584, c. 3591. An answer was then filed and the cause heard upon bill and answer, with the result that the preliminary injunction allowed by the state court was made permanent, and the railroad company enjoined from refusing to receive and carry beer from Evansville to any point upon its line of road in the State of Kentucky, wet or dry. An appeal by the railroad company to the circuit court of appeals resulted in an affirmance of the order of the circuit court. For the opinion, see 172 F.1d 7 chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 223 U. S. 80

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