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U.S. Supreme Court

Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Sonman Shaft Coal Co., 242 U.S. 120 (1916)

Pennsylvania Railroad Company v.

Sonman Shaft Coal Company

No. 10

Argued May 14, 1915

Restored to docket for reargument June 14, 1915

Reargued October 25, 1915

Decided December 4, 1916

242 U.S. 120


The duty of a carrier to furnish cars for coal to be loaded at the mine and forwarded promptly for delivery to purchasers in other states is a duty in interstate commerce, notwithstanding the sale of the coal is f.o.b. at the mine.

If no administrative question is involved, a claim for damages for failure, upon reasonable request, to furnish to a shipper in interstate commerce cars sufficient to meet his needs may be enforced in a state as well as a federal court, and without preliminary finding by the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Such remedy is preserved by § 22 of the Interstate Commerce Act. The modes of redress provided by §§ 8 and 9 are not exclusive. Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Puritan Coal Co., 237 U. S. 121.

Where relevant conditions of trade and transportation are normal, it is the duty of the carrier, upon reasonable demand, to furnish a shipper in interstate commerce sufficient cars to satisfy the actual needs of his business. That duty, in this case, existed under the common law until the date of the Hepburn Act, and continued thereafter under a provision of that act which, so far as concerns this case, amounts to an adoption of the common law. Act of June 29, 1906, § 1, c. 3591, 34 Stat. 584. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 242 U. S. 121

It is only in times of car shortage resulting from unusual demands or other abnormal conditions, not reasonably to have been foreseen, that car distribution rules originating with the carrier can be regarded as qualifying or affecting the right of a shipper to demand and receive cars commensurate in number with his needs. Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Puritan Coal Co., supra.

Evidence that, throughout the period covered by alleged failures to supply cars, many cars of the carrier which otherwise would have been available to shippers on the carrier's lines were on the lines of other railroad companies as the result of through routings and joint rates has no tendency to prove that the carrier supplied the complaining shipper with the cars to which he was entitled, or to mitigate its default in that regard.

241 Pa.St. 487 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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