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Newton v. Consolidated Gas Co. of New York, 258 U.S. 165 (1922)

Newton v. Consolidated Gas Company of New York

Nos. 257, 258 and 288

Argued November 17, 18, 1921

Decided March 6, 1922

258 U.S. 165


1. The copying into the record, contrary to Equity Rules 75 and 76, of voluminous stenographic reports of proceedings before a master, useless exhibits, and other matter irrelevant to the appeal is an

Page 258 U. S. 166

indefensible practice which the court hereafter will feel at liberty to punish to the limit of its discretion -- possibly by dismissing the appeal. P. 258 U. S. 173.

2. Evidence held sufficient to support conclusions of the master and trial court that the eighty-cent gas rate fixed by New York Laws 1906, c. 125, and upheld in Willcox v. Consolidated Gas Co., 212 U. S. 19, had become confiscatory when this suit was begun and decided due to increased costs of labor and materials, and would so continue. P. 258 U. S. 174.

3. There is a presumption that profits realized by a gas company while subject to supervision by a Commission empowered to prohibit unreasonable rates were lawfully acquired. P. 258 U. S. 175.

4. The public interest in the property of a public service corporation dedicated to a public use, and the past success of its enterprise, will not support a demand that it operate indefinitely at a loss. P. 258 U. S. 175.

5. The fact that a gas company may not have supplied gas of the candlepower required by statute will not debar it (as coming with unclean hands) from equitable relief from a confiscatory rate when its conduct has been subject to official control and it has endeavored to meet its customers' requirements. P. 258 U. S. 175.

6. Books of a gas company, kept in ordinary course, under supervision of a public Commission and free from suspicion, held admissible as prima facie evidence of the confiscatory effect of a statutory gas rate. P. 258 U. S. 176.

7. As a condition to an injunction against a gas rate found confiscatory, the court has discretionary power, which, however, should be exercised very cautiously, to prescribe a maximum future rate for a specified period as a limitation in favor of consumers. P. 258 U. S. 177.

8. But a requirement that future collections made by the gas company above the confiscatory rate shall be impounded for ultimate distribution in accordance with a rate to be fixed by state authority in the indefinite future is erroneous. P. 258 U. S. 177.

9. The district court has discretion to make orders pending appeal to preserve the status quo until decision by the appellate court. P. 258 U. S. 177.

267 F. 231, 274 F. 986, modified and affirmed.

Appeals and cross-appeals from decrees of the district court in a suit to enjoin the enforcement of a statutory gas rate.

Page 258 U. S. 171

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