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LOUISVILLE & N. R. CO. V. WEST COAST CO., 198 U. S. 483 (1905)

U.S. Supreme Court

Louisville & N. R. Co. v. West Coast Co., 198 U.S. 483 (1905)

Louisville & Nashville Railroad Company v.

West Coast Naval Stores Company

No. 225

Submitted April 25, 1905

Decided May 29, 1905

198 U.S. 483


A common carrier may agree with such other carrier as it may choose to forward beyond its own line goods it has transported to its terminus, and, if it has adequate terminal facilities at a sea port sufficient for all freight destined for that place, it is not obliged to allow other and competing carriers to load and discharge at a wharf owned by it and erected for facilitating the transportation of through freight to points beyond that place.

The fact that a wharf is built by a railroad company on what might be the extension of a public street, under permissions of the municipality, does not, in the absence of express stipulations, make it a public wharf or affect the company's right of sole occupancy or power of regulation thereof.

Certiorari to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to review a judgment of that court affirming one in favor of the West Coast Naval Stores Company (hereinafter called the plaintiff), against the railroad company (hereinafter called the defendant), for damages for refusing to permit the plaintiff to use the wharf of defendant at Pensacola for the

Page 198 U. S. 484

transportation of plaintiff's property, as stated in the declaration.

The action was brought in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Florida.

The plaintiff's declaration contains two counts, which are substantially the same, and it is therein averred that the plaintiff is a citizen of Florida and the defendant is a citizen of Kentucky, and that the latter is a common carrier, and carries goods into Pensacola over its railroad, and, among them, the goods of the plaintiff. The course of business between the two companies has been for the plaintiff to obtain transportation of its turpentine and rosin from its yard near Pensacola, and its warehouse in that city, by means of a switch, built for that purpose by the defendant, to defendant's main line, and thence to the wharf of defendant (which plaintiff alleged was a public wharf) by means of the cars and upon the railroad of the defendant. The wharf extended into the Bay of Pensacola, and was used by defendant (and by persons bringing goods over the defendant's railway to and into Pensacola) for the purpose of shipping such goods from the wharf to vessels destined for other ports. After defendant had transported the goods of the plaintiff to the wharf of defendant, the plaintiff had been accustomed to ship to other ports by vessels, with the managers of which plaintiff had contracts of carriage; that in the midst of the prosecution of such business defendant had notified plaintiff that it would thereafter refuse, and it did thereafter refuse, to allow plaintiff to transport its goods to the wharf for the purpose of there loading them on such vessels as above mentioned, and refused to permit the wharf and railway of defendant to be used in the prosecution of plaintiff's business insofar as the prosecution would involve the use of the vessels chosen by the plaintiff for the shipment of the goods from Pensacola to the damage of the plaintiff, as set forth in the declaration.

The defendant filed several pleas to this declaration, and the plaintiff demurred to them, which demurrer was overruled

Page 198 U. S. 485

by the circuit court. Upon writ of error, the circuit court of appeals reversed that judgment, 121 F. 645, and when the case came down, the defendant withdrew all former pleas and filed in the circuit court another plea, as follows:

"The defendant, withdrawing all former pleas, pleads to the first and second counts of the declaration as follows:"

"1. That the defendant has adequate depots and yards in the City of Pensacola for the receipt and delivery of all merchandise committed to it for transportation to and delivery at Pensacola. That neither its charter nor any statutory law has compelled or required, or compels or requires, it to construct or maintain the wharf mentioned in the declaration, but that it constructed the same at an expense to it of tens of thousands of dollars for the purpose of providing facilities for the transaction of its business with such vessels as it might permit to come to and lie at said wharf to take cargo. That no business has ever been done at said wharf except the transportation by the defendant, in cars on its railroad over said wharf, to and from vessels lying at the said wharf, of goods brought or to be transported by said vessels and the loading and unloading thereat of such vessels. That, in accordance with such purpose, it made and promulgated, upon the construction of said wharf, and more than five years prior to the bringing of this suit, rules and regulations by which it limited the use of its wharves, including the wharf mentioned in the declaration,"

"to traffic handled by vessels in regular lines running in connection with the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, and vessels belonging to, or consigned to, Gulf Transit Company"

"(an agency of defendant), and making the use of said wharves 'for traffic in connection with vessels other than herein referred to,' 'subject to special arrangement.' The said rules and regulations were in operation and enforced by defendant from the time of their promulgation, as aforesaid, up to, and at the time of, the refusal of the defendant to permit the naval stores of the plaintiff to be loaded from its wharf

Page 198 U. S. 486

into the 'certain vessels' mentioned in the declaration, and still are in force and operation. That the said 'certain vessels' were not regular lines running in connection with the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, nor were they belonging to, or consigned to, Gulf Transit Company, nor had they made any special arrangements with the defendant for the use of the said wharf; but that said vessels constituted an independent line between New York and Pensacola, and New York and Mobile, Alabama, carrying merchandise between the said points, and would have come in competition with a line of steamers with which the defendant was then negotiating for regular service in the transportation of merchandise to and from New York and Pensacola in connection and under traffic arrangements with defendant, and such service has since been established, and a line of steamers is now regularly transporting merchandise between said points in such connection and under such traffic arrangements, and was also in competition with the defendant itself, which was at said time, and had been for a long time prior thereto, engaged in a like business between said points, carrying goods by its line of railroad from Pensacola and Mobile to River Junction, Florida, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Montgomery, Alabama, and there delivering the same to a connecting carrier and other carriers connecting therewith, transporting goods to the City of New York, and receiving from said connecting carriers at the points aforesaid, and transporting to Pensacola and Mobile goods shipped from New York to Pensacola and Mobile."

"That the defendant has not either notified plaintiff that it would not carry plaintiff's naval stores nor refused to transport plaintiff's naval stores over its railway mentioned in the declaration to and on its wharf, also mentioned in the declaration; that it has at all times so transported them when requested so to do by the plaintiff; that the defendant has refused to permit the certain vessels mentioned in the declaration to take goods and merchandise from its said wharf, to be transported by them to the port of New York, as aforesaid, but that such

Page 198 U. S. 487

refusal was solely because the said vessels were not of either of the classes provided for by the rules aforesaid, nor had made special arrangements with the defendant, and would have been, as aforesaid, in competition with the lines of vessels connecting with the defendant, running to and from New York, and was, as aforesaid, in competition with the defendant itself in its rail transportation aforesaid, to and from New York city, and that the defendant was then, and at all times had been, ready and willing to give, and did give, to the plaintiff the same facilities for shipping naval stores to New York, or any other port, over defendant's said wharf as it gave to any and all other shippers; that the unloading by the plaintiff of its said goods into said vessels necessarily involves the lying at, attachment to, and use of the said wharf, one of the terminals of the defendant, by the said vessels; that the said wharf was not at the time mentioned in the declaration, and has never been, a public wharf, unless the facts set forth hereinbefore in this plea constituted it such."

This plea was in substance the same as the third plea which defendant had theretofore interposed, and which the circuit court of appeals had held bad. The plaintiff again demurred. The circuit court sustained the demurrer, in accordance with the decision of the circuit court of appeals, and gave leave to the defendant to amend as it might be advised. The defendant refused to amend. Judgment was then entered against it by default, and direction given to proceed with the case for the purpose of having plaintiff's damages assessed. A trial by jury upon the question of damages was had, and the jury found a verdict for the plaintiff for $1,000, upon which judgment was duly entered.

The defendant then sued out a writ of error to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which court, adhering to the views expressed by it on the former appeal, affirmed the judgment, 128 F. 1020, and the defendant thereupon applied to this Court for a writ of certiorari, which was granted, and the case is now here.

Page 198 U. S. 492

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