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U.S. Supreme Court

Merchants Warehouse Co. v. United States, 283 U.S. 501 (1931)

Merchants Warehouse Co. v. United States

Nos. 635-643

Argued April 21, 1931

Decided May 18, 1931

283 U.S. 501


1. The credibility of witnesses and the weight of evidence in matters before the Interstate Commerce Commission are for the Commission to determine, and its findings of fact will not be reviewed by the courts if supported by evidence. P. 283 U. S. 508.

2. The evidence in this case (which involves the validity of certain allowances made by railroads to certain warehouses) supports the conclusion of the Commission that the warehouses are not in fact public freight stations, as designated by the railroads; that the service performed by the warehouses do not differ from those chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 283 U. S. 502

performed by their competitors in the same place, and that their designation as freight stations was nominal only, the real purpose being to compensate them for soliciting freight shipments over the lines of the carriers. P. 283 U. S. 508.

3. Payments made by a carrier to a warehouse for the service of assembling and loading package freight for shipment in individual carload consignments and of unloading and distributing like incoming consignments amount to unlawful rebates where, under the carrier's tariff, such service results in securing carload rates for less than carload shipments for the patrons of the warehouse, and could not lawfully be performed by the carrier itself. Pp. 283 U. S. 509-510.

4. Where carriers extend, in the form of money allowances to favored warehousemen, 48 hours free time during which carload freight is unloaded at their warehouses, stored, and distributed in less than carload lots, all at the expense of the carriers, and this privilege is withheld from other competing warehousemen and from shippers who maintain their own private warehouses on industrial tracks or private sidings, the discrimination violates § 2 of the Interstate Commerce Act. P. 283 U. S. 511.

5. Where a forbidden discrimination is made, the mere fact that it has been long continued and that the machinery for making it is in tariff form cannot clothe it with immunity. Id.

6. Warehouse companies who ship and receive freight for their patrons and are themselves the consignors and consignees where "package" freight moves in carloads at carload rates are "persons " authorized to lodge complaints with the Interstate Commerce Commission, § 13(1), and "persons" within the meaning of that word as used in §§ 2 and 3 of the Act. P. 283 U. S. 512.

7. The evil of discrimination was the principal thing aimed at by the Act, and its language is broad enough to embrace all discriminations of the sort described which lay within the power of Congress to condemn. Id.

8. Since the discrimination here involved could not be overcome without extending the allowances to all shippers of carloads at carload rates and without changes in the carriers' tariffs, the Commission rightly ordered the carriers to cease employing the means by which it was accomplished. P. 283 U. S. 513.

9. Nothing herein is to be taken as indicating that a carrier may not designate a warehouse as a public freight station and select an agent for its management where a forbidden discrimination is not effected. Cf. Arbuckle Case, United States v. Baltimore & Ohio R. Co., 231 U. S. 274. Id. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 283 U. S. 503

10. Order of the district court staying an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission pending disposition of appeal from a decree refusing to set it aide held a proper exercise of discretion in the circumstances. P. 283 U. S. 513.

44 F.2d 379, affirmed.

Appeals from decrees dismissing bills by which several warehousing corporations sought to set aside an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission. The cross-appeals were from an order of the court staying the order of the Commission pending disposition of the main appeals.

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