Willis Shaw Frozen Express, Inc. v. United States

PETITIONER: Willis Shaw Frozen Express, Inc.
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)

CITATION: 377 US 159 (1964)
ARGUED: Apr 23, 1964 / Apr 27, 1964
DECIDED: May 04, 1964

Facts of the case


Media for Willis Shaw Frozen Express, Inc. v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 23, 1964 in Willis Shaw Frozen Express, Inc. v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 27, 1964 in Willis Shaw Frozen Express, Inc. v. United States

Earl Warren:

Versus United States et al.

A. Alvis Layne:

Mr. Chief Justice.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Layne.

A. Alvis Layne:

May it please the Court.

On Thursday, I pointed out that this appeal involves a construction and application of the Transportation Act of 1958 which imposed on truck transportation of certain agricultural commodities, economic regulation, rate and operating authority regulation of the Interstate Commerce Commission.

But which directed the Commission to issue operating authority to truckers in bona fide operation on May 1, 1958 over any route or routes or within any territory, transporting this agricultural commodity.

This provision, directing the issue on some operating rights, was designed to assure that these previously unregulated truckers could continue in business.

I also pointed out that the Interstate Commerce Commission had interpreted and applied this statute to Shaw, the appellant here, a substantial common carrier of refrigerated and frozen agricultural commodities so as to limit sharply Shaw's future operations as compared with his prior bona fide operation.

The Commission did this by ignoring the transportation characteristics of the frozen fruits, frozen vegetables and frozen berries involved.

And the Commission wholly ignored the scope of service, actually held out by Shaw.

The Commission in fact refused to receive or consider evidence of Shaw's ability to perform on the ground that such evidence was irrelevant to its determination under the statute as it was being applied.

The Commission fragmented Shaw's prior operations into a series of disconnected and unrelated shipments.

The result is completely unrelated to operating reality for any trucker.

The Commission for example, would permit only frozen fruit to be carried to some points, frozen vegetables to others, frozen berries to still others.


A. Alvis Layne:

Yes, they --


A. Alvis Layne:

That's right, the Commission --


A. Alvis Layne:

Yes it is, Your Honor, because Shaw was transporting, for example, from the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

The Commission held that they could transport frozen fruits, vegetables and berries as I said on Thursday, to a point such as Kansas City, but from precisely the same origin point, only frozen berries to say Saint Joseph, Missouri.

Now, this is entirely unrealistic to any trucker.

They --

Arthur J. Goldberg:


A. Alvis Layne:

Oh, yes.

It was based on that mere fact and this fact alone that Shaw had not in fact during the period of the Commission considered relevant, transported a shipment of frozen Vegetables from the Lower Peninsula of Michigan to Saint Joseph, Missouri.

In the Carolina Freight Carriers case, this Court said that that kind of treatment as applied to a common carrier was a misapplication of the statutory standards.

Earl Warren:

Mr. Layne, what territorial limits, if any, would you suggest the Commission could restrict it to under (Inaudible)?

A. Alvis Layne:

I think they -- they could restrict into the areas in which it was demonstrated that he had in fact served geographically.

That is -- we'll take another example Mr. Chief Justice.