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U.S. Supreme Court

Milwaukee Elec. Ry. & Light Co. v. Milwaukee, 252 U.S. 100 (1920)

Milwaukee Electric Railway & Light Company v. Milwaukee

No. 55

Argued November 10, 1919

Decided Mach 1, 1920

252 U.S. 100


When it is claimed that the obligation of a contract is impaired by a state law, this Court inclines to accept the construction placed upon the contract by the supreme court of the state if the matter is fairly in doubt. P. 252 U. S. 103.

A street railway franchise declared it the duty of the grantee company

"at all times to keep in good repair the roadway between the rails and for one foot on the outside of each rail as laid, and the space between the two inside rails of its double tracks with the same material as the city shall have last used to pave or repave these spaces and the street previous to such repairs,"

unless the company and the city agreed on some other material. In the absence of such an agreement, held that the company's obligation extended to the use of materials chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 252 U. S. 101

adopted by the city in repaving the rest of the street which were not the same as the city had last used in repaving between and near the rails. P. 252 U. S. 103.

Where a street railway company, by franchise contract with a city, undertakes to repave between and next its rails with such material as the city used in repaving the rest of the street, and the city's regulatory power in respect of paving has not been precluded by contract, it is for the city to determine in the first instance what kind of pavement the public necessity and convenience demand. Held in such a case that the court could not say that it was inherently arbitrary and unreasonable to require the company to install asphalt on a concrete foundation which the city had adopted to replace macadam and which was more expensive. P. 252 U. S. 104.

A street railway company cannot escape a contractual duty to repave between and next its tracks upon the ground that the expense will reduce its income below six percent, claimed to be not a reasonable return upon property used and useful in its business. Id.

The Fourteenth Amendment, in guaranteeing equal protection of the laws, does not assure uniformity of judicial decisions, and there is clearly no ground for the contention that such protection is denied because the state court, after a judgment complained of, rendered another, claimed to be irreconcilable with it on a matter of law, in a suit between strangers. P. 252 U. S. 105. Gelpcke v. Dubuqe, 1 Wall. 175, and Muhlker v. New York & Harlem R. Co., 197 U. S. 544, distinguished.

166 Wis. 163 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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