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ATCHISON, T. & S.F. RY. CO. V. UNITED STATES, 232 U. S. 199 (1914)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Atchison, T. & S.F. Ry. Co. v. United States, 232 U.S. 199 (1914)

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway

Company v. United States

No. 590

Argued December 1, 2, 1913

Decided January 26, 1914

232 U.S. 199


Whatever transportation service or facility the law requires the carriers to supply they have the right to furnish.

Under § 15 of the Act to Regulate Commerce, as amended by the Hepburn Act, the carrier has not only the duty, but the right, to furnish all ice needed in refrigeration.

A carrier cannot be compelled to keep facilities for the benefit of shippers and the shippers allowed to furnish these facilities themselves.

The carrier cannot compel a shipper of fruit to have it refrigerated.

When ice is actually needed and used in transportation of fruit, it depends upon the circumstances of each case whether the icing is a part of preparation which can be done by the shipper or part of refrigeration which the carrier has the exclusive right to furnish.

Neither the carrier nor the shipper can insist upon wasteful or expensive service in transportation for which the consumer must ultimately pay. In this regard, the court will consider the interests of the public.

Loading the car, by whomsoever done, must be such as to prepare the freight for shipment, and a consignor may, in the absence of a regularly filed tariff covering this work, not only put perishable freight, such as fruit, in a car placed at his warehouse, but may do all other acts, including icing, necessary to fit the fruit for shipment and filling bunkers in the car with ice for its preservation.

Filing a tariff withdrawing a privilege to shippers affects a practice and a rule within the meaning of the Act to Regulate Commerce, and the Commission has power under § 15, as amended by the Hepburn Act, to determine after a hearing whether the new rate is unreasonable, and if so what is just, and require the carrier to conform to the rates and practice prescribed by it.

An order of the Commission fixing carload rates apparently excluding any compensation for hauling the ice necessary for refrigerating is not confiscatory when it appears that the rate for the fruit itself practically includes the rate for the ice.

In a suit based entirely on reasonableness of carload rates, the issue of whether it discriminates against shippers of small lots will not be chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 232 U. S. 200

considered when that issue is not presented on any assignment of error in this Court.

What are proper rates for transportation and fair charges for facilities furnished and services rendered, and differences between carload and less than carload lots, are all ratemaking matter committed to the Commission and within its discretion.

The courts have no power to fix rates or establish practices, and cannot interfere with those fixed and established by the Commission except in cases where the orders are void. Interstate Commerce Commission v. Un. Pac. R. Co., 222 U. S. 547.

204 F.6d 7 affirmed.

In 1909, associations representing California fruit growers filed with the Commerce Commission complaints against numerous railroad companies attacking the freight and refrigeration charges on citrus fruit shipped from California to Eastern points. Much testimony was taken, from which it appeared that the orange crop amounted to about 50,000 cars per annum, of which the 20,000 shipped in warm weather required some form of refrigeration in order to keep the fruit in condition for use at the end of the journey. At the close of the first hearing, June 11, 1910, the Commission held (19 I.C.C. 148) that $1.15 per cwt. was a reasonable freight rate on oranges. Other questions in the case were postponed until January 14, 1911, when the Commission made a report (20 I.C.C. 106) as to the reasonableness of the carriers' charges of $62.50 per car for refrigeration and $30 for services in shipments pre-cooled by the consignor.

The Commission found that, in refrigeration by the carriers, they furnished all the ice and performed all of the services, including reicing en route. It found that there was a total of about 11 tons of ice furnished, but, owing to the melting, the average weight of the ice hauled was 8,000 lbs., the freight on which to Chicago was $.25 per 100. It cost something to repair the bunkers, and the Commission recognized the right to include an additional sum to cover risk and profit. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 232 U. S. 201

The total revenue of $345.30 from such shipments was made up of the following items:

Freight on 27,200 lbs. of oranges at $1.15. $312.80

Cost of 11 tons of ice. . . . . . . . . . . $30.00

Freight on 8,000 lbs. average weight of

ice hauled at $.25. . . . . . . . . . . . 20.00

Damage to bunkers . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.00

Sum to cover risk and profit. . . . . . . . 7.50



Gross receipts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $375.30

Less cost of ice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30.00


Freight and refrigeration charges $345.30

The Commission found that the charge of $62.50 for refrigeration services was reasonable.

It further appeared that the government had conducted certain experiments with a view of determining whether an advantage would not be derived from pre-cooling the fruit before the bunkers were filled with ice. There was testimony that the carriers had reached the conclusion that, if the fruit was pre-cooled before the movement of the car began, there would be a corresponding saving in the amount of ice needed in the bunkers. They accordingly had erected plants at which the fruit could be pre-cooled, and included such pre-cooling service in the regular refrigeration charge of $62.50.

Certain shippers claimed that better results were obtained where the fruit was pre-cooled immediately after it was taken from the grove and before it was placed in the car. They therefore adopted a method in which the shipper chills the fruit, cools the car, furnishes the ice, and fills the bunkers at a cost to himself of $32.50. The carrier, for its services in connection with hauling such pre-cooled shipment, charged $30, intending thereby to make the rates on chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 232 U. S. 202

pre-cooled fruits the same, whether the pre-cooling was by the shipper or the carrier. In determining whet