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U.S. Supreme Court

Service Storage & Transfer Co., Inc. v. Virginia, 359 U.S. 171 (1959)

Service Storage & Transfer Co., Inc. v. Virginia

No. 92

Argued February 26, 1959

Decided March 30, 1959

359 U.S. 171


Petitioner, a motor carrier authorized by the Interstate Commerce Commission to transport commodities between Bluefield, W. Va., and various points in Virginia and West Virginia, was fined by Virginia for carrying certain allegedly intrastate shipments without complying with a Virginia statute governing intrastate operations. The shipments in question were from Virginia points to other Virginia points, but were routed through petitioner's main terminal in Bluefield, W. Va., in accordance with petitioner's usual practice regarding less than truckload shipments. Subsequently, the Interstate Commerce Commission rendered an opinion construing petitioner's certificate as authorizing Virginia-to-Virginia traffic routed through Bluefield, W. Va.

Held: the interpretation of petitioner's interstate certificate should have been litigated before the Interstate Commerce Commission under § 204(c) of the Interstate Commerce Act before the State attempted to fine petitioner for allegedly unlawful operations, and the judgment sustaining the fine is reversed. Pp. 359 U. S. 172-179.

(a) To sustain the fines here assessed by the State would be tantamount to a partial suspension of petitioner's federally granted certificate, contrary to 49 U.S.C. § 312. Pp. 359 U. S. 176-177.

(b) Interpretations of federal certificates of this character should be made in the first instance by the authority issuing the certificates. Pp. 359 U. S. 177-178.

(c) Eichholz v. Public Service Comm'n, 306 U. S. 268, distinguished. Pp. 359 U. S. 178-179.

(d) If the State believes that petitioner's operation is not bona fide interstate, but is merely a subterfuge to escape its jurisdiction, it can file a complaint with the Interstate Commerce Commission under § 204(c). P. 359 U. S. 179.

199 Va. 797,102 S.E.2d 339, reversed. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 359 U. S. 172

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