Port of Boston Marine Terminal Assn. v. Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic

PETITIONER: Port of Boston Marine Terminal Assn.
RESPONDENT: Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic
LOCATION: Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1970-1971)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 400 US 62 (1970)
ARGUED: Oct 22, 1970
DECIDED: Dec 08, 1970

Facts of the case


Media for Port of Boston Marine Terminal Assn. v. Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 22, 1970 in Port of Boston Marine Terminal Assn. v. Rederiaktiebolaget Transatlantic

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments in number 99, Port of Boston Marine Terminal and the Respondents.

Gentlemen, we've got an hour and 20 minutes, the total amount allocated for this case is an hour and 40, if you want to finish it up tonight, it rests entirely in your hands.

We'll do our best.

John M. Reed:

Thank you, Your honor.

On behalf of the Port of Boston Marine Terminal Association and the other petitioners who are the Port Terminals of the City of Boston, I am going to divide my argument in three sections.

I will state the case, I will then deal as briefly as I can with the problem of the administrative res judicata which is the first point raised on the petitioner for certiorari and I will conclude with the problem of whether the issuance of the tariff in issue here was a modification of the Conference Agreement of my client, the Port of Boston Marine Terminal Association.

This case if the Court please began in the summer of 1965 when the Port of Boston Marine Terminal Association and the member terminals of the Port of Boston brought a petition for a declaratory judgment in the Superior Court for Suffolk County in Massachusetts.

That case was removed by the respondents where the Boston Shipping Association and its members also joined these respondents in the original case to the federal district courts setting in Boston.

And I should point out who those respondents were.

They were the Shipping Association itself, an organization which engages in labor negotiation for the steamships in Boston with the ILA locals.

The members were the steamship carriers in some cases, in some cases steamship agents whose function that is in ports to negotiate on behalf of vessels for work space and ancillary needs of the vessel.

The case was removed on September 1, 1965 to the Federal District Court in Boston and in March of the following year, the Port of Boston Marine Terminal Association and the other petitioners laid their motion for a pretrial order or something like a summary judgment which would have given the respondents an opportunity to apply to the Federal Maritime Commission to show the invalidity of the tariff charge being made.

It had already taken place in this case as I will come to that there had been discussions to try to press the Boston Shipping Association and its members into filing a complaint with the FMC which was the only place where the validity of this tariffs could be adjudged in the opinion of the petitioners.

Nothing had been done up until that point but the federal district judge hearing this most in the spring of 1966 entered an order, that the case should be stayed until the defendants did have an opportunity to make their complaint under Section 21 of the Shipping Act with the Federal Maritime Commission.

And that order appears two places in the record here, and in one place it set out in full in rather formal language.

And the other places, in the docket entries that will appear in the record appendix, the language of the order may become important and what follows and the order was not really a reference to the Federal Maritime Commission.

The order rather was one which gave the declaration that the FMC had initial and primary jurisdiction to determine the validity of the charges in question and that the -- within proceeding was stayed until the parties involved then where the defendants have made that application.

In other words, it was not like a court referring a case to a master or the FMC referring a case to an examiner.

The proceeding which was contemplated would be a collateral proceeding one not -- finally not of the court proceeding but one on its own legs and in fact, that is what actually occurred.

On April 21 --

Mr. Reed, what is the significance of what you have just said?

John M. Reed:

The significance of that if Your Honor please is that we will have argument later I believe, that the District Court which referred the matter should have jurisdiction to review the propriety of what the Federal Maritime Commission did and that has a lot of appeal if I may say so.

A court that refers any kind of a jurisprudential question to an agency, a master, or anybody else ought to have the power to determine whether that person to whom it has made the reference has done it right.

And in this case, and indeed in all such cases where we talked about reference, we are really using an illusion there wasn't really a reference in this case.

What took place was there was an opportunity to make the application and the proceeding in the FMC was really separate from the proceedings in the Federal District Court.

The case went to the Federal Maritime Commission under a complaint that was filed there by all the defendants that were then before the Federal District Court that included all the members of the Boston Shipping Association.

I think that stipulated and it appears several places in the record.

The Federal Maritime Commission then investigated the matter with a trial examiner.

And the trial examiner made a ruling on the three issues that have been raised by complaint in the FMC, one each under the Sections of the Shipping Act that are involved, Sections 15, 16 and 17 of the Act.

The examiner had made an adverse determination to the terminals under Sections 16 and 17 issues.