United States v. Interstate Commerce Commission

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: Interstate Commerce Commission
LOCATION: Kingsley Books, Inc.

DOCKET NO.: 12
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1956-1957)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 352 US 158 (1956)
ARGUED: Oct 11, 1956
DECIDED: Dec 17, 1956

Facts of the case

Question

Media for United States v. Interstate Commerce Commission

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 11, 1956 (Part 1) in United States v. Interstate Commerce Commission

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 11, 1956 (Part 2) in United States v. Interstate Commerce Commission

Ralph S. Spritzer:

-- have been serving them uninterruptedly for some 30 odd years.

That the Army had leased them after they were completed to a succession of terminal operators.

There's no dispute.

I might add that these facilities are suitable terminal facilities in every sense.

They're large.

They're well equipped.

They have mechanical loading and unloading equipment and an abundance of warehouse space.

Now, while the carriers have served these piers uninterruptedly, they have had from the first what may strike the Court as a rather unusual arrangement with respect to providing these port services to the shipper.

The best way to describe it, I think, is to borrow from the language of antitrust and to refer to it as a tie-in arrangement.

And it is this arrangement which is a kind of but-for cause of the controversy which ultimately arose in World War II and then repeated itself in the Korean period.

One would normally expect, I think, that carriers would charge a line-haul rate for delivering freight cars to a terminal.

And that thereafter, the shipper would pay a separate charge for the unloading and for the use of the pier to the terminal operator whoever he might be.

That is common at most ports, but in a number of the North Atlantic ports this tie-in practice was initiated in the 1920s.

And that practice is as follows.

The shipper pays an export rate.

The carrier agrees by appropriate tariff rule or provision that it will provide the wharfage and handling services itself or that it will absorb the wharfage and handling charges of designated commercial terminal operators.

The wharfage and handling charges as the tariffs put it are included in the export rate to and from Norfolk, Virginia.

The carriers however limit the places at which this performance can be obtained.

Now, the purpose and effect of this, we think, are fairly evident.

Harold Burton:

I don't understand what you mean by saying limited places.

Ralph S. Spritzer:

They will designate a particular terminal and say at this terminal, wharfage and handling --

Harold Burton:

They don't -- they don't say at Norfolk.

Ralph S. Spritzer:

-- charges of so much.

Pardon?

Harold Burton:

They don't say at Norfolk.

Ralph S. Spritzer:

No, they --

Harold Burton:

What --

Ralph S. Spritzer:

-- designate the specific terminals.

For example, the Army's lessee until 1951 was a company named Stevenson & Young and they say in their tariffs, we included are the charges, wharfage and handling charges of Stevenson & Young and then those charges are specified, they're $1 a ton as it happen.

Harold Burton:

Does those tariffs include these Army ports, these Army --