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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co., 293 U.S. 454 (1935)

United States v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co.

No. 221

Argued December 12, 13, 1934

Decided January 7, 1935

293 U.S. 454


1. Adoption of a rule requiring rail carriers to substitute power-operated for hand-operated reversing gear, if the latter is found to render the engine unsafe or to subject employees or others to "unnecessary peril of life or limb" is within the scope of the authority vested in the Interstate Commerce Commission by the amended Boiler Inspection Act. P. 293 U. S. 458.

2. The Boiler Inspection Act, as amended, imposed upon the Interstate Commerce Commission responsibility for adequate safety rules, and to that end it granted to the Commission the power not only of disapproving rules proposed by the carriers, but also of requiring modifications of rules in force. P. 293 U. S. 459.

3. This power may properly be exercised on complaint of Brotherhoods representing employees. P. 293 U. S. 461.

4. The Act confers authority on the Commission to prescribe by rule specific devices or changes in equipment only where these are required in order to remove "unnecessary peril to life or limb," and a finding by the Commission to that effect is essential to the existence of the authority. P. 293 U. S. 462.

5. To support an order of the Commission amending the rules under the Boiler Inspection Act so as to require substitution of power-operated for hand-operated reversing gear in steam locomotives, it must appear, and not merely by inference, that the Commission found that the use of the hand gear, as compared with the use of the power gear, causes unnecessary peril to life or limb. In the absence of such a finding, the order is void. P. 293 U. S. 463.

5 F.Supp. 929 affirmed. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 293 U. S. 455

Appeal from a decree of the District Court, constituted of three judges, which set aside an order of the Interstate Commerce Commission amending the rules under the Boiler Inspection Act. The suit was brought against the United States by a number of railroad companies suing on behalf of themselves and other railroads. The Commission and the chiefs of two organizations of locomotive engineers and firemen intervened.

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