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Producers Transportation Co. v. Railroad Comm'n, 251 U.S. 228 (1920)

Producers Transportation Co. v.

Railroad Commission of California

No. 219

Argued December 12, 1919

Decided January 5, 1920

251 U.S. 228


If, in the beginning or during its subsequent operation, a pipeline is devoted by its owner to the use of the public in transporting oil for hire, and if the right thus extended to the public has not been withdrawn, the pipeline is a public utility and its owner a common carrier whose rates and practices may be subjected to state regulation consistently with the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 251 U. S. 230.

The following grounds, relied on by the state court, have adequate support in the evidence and sustain its conclusion that the plaintiff in error had devoted its pipeline to public use, viz: (1) authority in articles of incorporation to establish and carry on a general transportation business for transporting any oils produced by the pipeline company or others; (2) acquisition of part of its right of way through eminent domain proceedings, admissible only, under the state law, if the condemnation was for a public use and was by an "agent of the state," and averments in such proceedings by the condemnor that it was a common carrier seeking the right of way for a public use; (3) transportation in substance for all producers seeking

Page 251 U. S. 229

the service, though done in form through an intermediate agency and a system of contract, it appearing that membership in such agency was readily obtained and had not been refused. P. 251 U. S. 231.

A common carrier cannot, by making contract for future transportation, prevent or postpone the exertion by a state of the power to regulate the carrier's rate and practice. P. 251 U. S. 232.

Nor does the contract clause of the Constitution interpose any obstacle to the exertion of that power. Id.

176 Cal. 499 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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