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Petroleum Exploration, Inc. v. Public Svc. Comm'n, 304 U.S. 209 (1938)

Petroleum Exploration, Inc. v. Public Service Commission

No. 705

Argued April 4, 5, 1938

Decided May 2, 1938

304 U.S. 209


1. The Act of May 14, 1934, restricting the jurisdiction of the federal courts to enjoin enforcement of orders of state commissions affecting public utility rates, is inapplicable to an order of a commission commanding a corporation to produce evidence on a certain date, made without notice or hearing. P. 304 U. S. 214.

2. In a suit to enjoin as unconstitutional a projected inquiry by a state agency into the reasonableness of the rates of a gas company, the expense to the company of complying with the order by showing the original and historical costs of its properties, cost of reproduction as a going concern, and other elements of value recognized

Page 304 U. S. 210

by law in fixing rates is part of the amount or value in controversy. P. 304 U. S. 215.

3. The objection that a suit is not within equity jurisdiction because of the existence of a plain, adequate, and complete remedy at law (Jud.Code § 267) may be taken by trial or appellate court sua sponte. P. 304 U. S. 216.

4. The adequate legal remedy which will defeat equity jurisdiction must be a remedy available in the federal court. P. 304 U. S. 217.

5. A gas corporation owning very valuable property and doing a large business sought in a federal court to enjoin a state commission from carrying on proceedings to fix the company's rates in alleged excess of the commission's jurisdiction and in violation of the company's constitutional rights. Held, that a loss of $25,000 in preparing and presenting the company's case before the commission would not constitute irreparable injury justifying equitable intervention. Meyers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U. S. 41. P. 304 U. S. 218.

When the only ground for interfering with the state procedure is the reasonable cost of preparing for a hearing, there is no occasion for equitable intervention. P. 304 U. S. 221.

12 F.Supp. 254 affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of the District Court of three judges which dismissed a bill for an injunction.

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