Western Pacific Railroad Company v. United States

PETITIONER: Western Pacific Railroad Company
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Juvenile Court

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1965-1967)

CITATION: 382 US 237 (1965)
ARGUED: Oct 19, 1965
DECIDED: Dec 07, 1965

Facts of the case


Media for Western Pacific Railroad Company v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 19, 1965 in Western Pacific Railroad Company v. United States

Earl Warren:

Number 12, Western Pacific Railway Company et al., Appellants, versus United States.

Walter G. Treanor:

Mr. Chief Justice, I move the admission of Paul Bender of the District of Columbia Bar for purposes of arguing this case on behalf of the United States.

Earl Warren:

Does it make it (Inaudible) for that purpose.

Mr. Treanor.

Walter G. Treanor:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

My co-counsel E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr. and I represent the Western Pacific Railroad Company and its subsidiary lines, the appellants in this matter.

This case arises under the provisions of Section 3 (4) of the interstate Commerce Act, which in part prohibits the practice of railroad rate discrimination between connecting lines.

Western Pacific charges railroad appellees with such a practice against them.

The map placed before the Court is an enlargement of the map which railroad appellees included in their brief herein.

We hope that it may prove helpful in describing the basically simple factual situation.

The Pacific West Coast is served generally by only two North, South Railroad routes, which are directly competitive one with the other.

These two routes are the Southern Pacific between Portland and Los Angeles which are shown in Brown and its connection with the Santa Fe from Stockton South to Los Angeles on one hand and the so-called, Bieber route which is made up of the purple Great Northern from Portland to Bieber, the Western Pacific in red from Bieber to the Stockton, San Francisco, Oakland Bay area and Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe in green south to Los Angeles.

Both routes extend between Southern California and Portland, Oregon and both routes physically connect with Railroad appellees at Portland.

Both routes served the same general territory in this area and all major shipping points.

The Bieber route was under the specific authorization of the Interstate Commerce Commission completed in 1931.

As described, it consists now as it did then of the end-to-end connections of the three specifically described railroads.

Southern Pacific route was constructed first and for almost 20 years was the only north-south rail route in this territory.

The construction of the Bieber route was for the declared and avowed purpose of establishing for the first time a service fully competitive with the event existing Southern Pacific route.

Railroad appellees which served the territory North to Portland up in Oregon, Washington and Western Idaho by establishing and maintaining a full line of through service rates with Southern Pacific via Portland while at the same time refusing to enter into similar arrangements with the Bieber route have forted and frustrated the competition between these two routes.

With the result that on all traffic moving to or from the appellee's territory, the Southern Pacific has a virtual monopoly as a practical manner than using one of the many illustrations, which appear in the record.

If the shipper at Seattle located on the lines of Railroad appellees, make the shipment from Seattle destined to San Francisco, California and the discrimination did not exist, we would be fully competitive at Portland for the movement south from the point of common interchange.

But because of the rate discrimination, the shipment must move South of Portland on the Southern Pacific route even if it is destined to an industry served exclusively by the Western Pacific Railroad in the San Francisco area.

And the same situation prevails in the opposite direction.

The need for competitive service, which in 1931 required establishment of the Bieber route, is manifestly more pronounced today.

In January of this year, the Interstate Commerce Commission rejected the separate efforts of both Southern Pacific and the Santa Fe to take stock control of Western Pacific pointing to among other factors the critical need of Western Pacific to remain as an independent effective competitor of Southern Pacific Company with particular emphasis on its operations via the Bieber route.

The division -- the decision of the Commission also pointed to the relative ineffectiveness of the competition provided in this territory by other modes or forms of transportation.

Efforts to abate the discrimination have been unavailing because both the Commission, contrary to the findings of its hearing officer, and the lower court determined that Western Pacific was not a connecting line with appellees, because one, it is not the partner in the Bieber route which enjoys the physical connection with appellees at Portland, and in the alternative Western Pacific does not now have by grace of railroad appellees what they have classified as a business connection with them.

Both the Commission and lower court rely upon Atlantic Coast Line versus United States.

It is our contention that they have wholly misconstrued that case which is not only contrary to what they believe it holds, but in fact, supports the right of a carrier located as is Western Pacific here to seek and obtain relief under the provisions of Section 3 (4).

It does not require any liberalization of the present interpretation of the term connecting lines to so hold.