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U.S. Supreme Court

Road Improvement Dist. No. 1 v. Missouri Pac. R. Co., 274 U.S. 188 (1927)

Road Improvement District No. 1 of Franklin County,

Arkansas v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Company

No. 38

Argued April 19, 1926

Decided April 18, 1927

274 U.S. 188


1. A legislative confirmation of a special assessment cures irregularities, but not constitutional infirmities. P. 274 U. S. 191.

2. Concurrent findings of two courts below of facts showing a road improvement assessment to be arbitrary and unreasonably discriminatory should be accepted by this Court unless clearly erroneous. P. 274 U. S. 191.

3. An assessment against a railroad based on real property and also its rolling stock and other personal property is unreasonably discriminatory when other assessments for the same improvement are based on real property alone. P. 274 U. S. 192. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 274 U. S. 189

4. Testimony that the assessors fixed the benefits to the railroad on a mileage basis regardless of area, and as to other property proceeded solely with regard to area, is of no avail after a legislative adoption of the assessments where the modes in which the assessors arrived at the amounts assessed were not shown on the assessment roll or communicated to the legislature. P. 274 U. S. 192.

5. That loss of local traffic to a railroad usually results when a hard-surface road adapted to use by motor-driven vehicles is constructed practically parallel to its line is of common knowledge. P. 274 U. S. 194.

6. The evidence shows that an increase in traffic and revenue of the railroad, as respects freight moving in carload lots and passengers traveling considerable distances, may reasonably be expected from the proposed road improvement, greater than the loss in local traffic, but that the assessment far exceed such anticipated benefit and is arbitrary and violative of the Due Process Clause. P. 274 U. S. 194.

7. Where an excessive special assessment was enjoined absolutely, but the evidence showed that some benefit would accrue, the court modified the decree so that a new assessment, not exceeding an amount stated, might be imposed by the board of assessors empowered by the state law to revise such assessments. P. 274 U. S. 194.

2 F.2d 340 modified and affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of the circuit court of appeals which affirmed a decree of the district court setting aside, as arbitrary and discriminatory, a special assessment of benefits against the railroad, made to help defray the cost of a road improvement in Arkansas.

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