UNITED STATES ET AL. v. CONTRACT STEEL CARRIERS, INC.
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF
INDIANA. No. 102.
Argued February 29, 1956.
Decided March 12, 1956.
1. If a requirement that the services of a "contract carrier by motor vehicle," within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. 303 (a) (15), must be individual and specialized is to be read into this section by its legislative history, the requirement was satisfied in this case, since this carrier hauls only strictly limited types of steel products under individual and continuing contractual agreements with a comparatively small number of shippers throughout a large area. P. 411.
2. The fact that this contract carrier has actively solicited business within the bounds of its license does not support a finding by the Interstate Commerce Commission that the carrier was "holding itself out to the general public" as a common carrier. Pp. 411-412.
128 F. Supp. 25, affirmed.
Charles F. Barber argued the cause for appellants. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Sobeloff, Assistant Attorney General Barnes, William J. Lamont and Robert W. Ginnane.
Robert N. Burchmore argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief was John S. Burchmore.
The Interstate Commerce Commission brings an appeal from a three-judge district court, 49 U.S.C. 305 (g), that reversed an order of the ICC, 62 M. C. C. 413, directing appellee Contract Steel Carriers to cease operations as a common carrier by motor vehicle. 128 F. Supp. 25.
Appellee holds licenses covering different areas surrounding Chicago, Houston, and St. Louis. As these are substantially in the same form, a single illustration will suffice. It covers contract carriage of [350 U.S. 409, 410]
The Commission found this holding-out from an advertisement, run without legal advice and since discontinued, offering its transportation service without mentioning whether it was contract or common carriage.
It was also charged that
We hold also that the fact that appellee has actively solicited business within the bounds of his license does [350 U.S. 409, 412] not support a finding that it was "holding itself out to the general public." A contract carrier is free to aggressively search for new business within the limits of his license. 2 Because the ICC's order is not supported by evidence in the record and is contrary to the definitions of contract and common carriers in 303 (14) and (15), we affirm the District Court.
[ Footnote 2 ] "Provided, however, That no terms, conditions, or limitations shall restrict the right of the carrier to substitute or add contracts within the scope of the permit, or to add to his or its equipment and facilities, within the scope of the permit, as the development of the business and the demands of the public may require." 49 U.S.C. 309 (b).
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, whom MR. JUSTICE HARLAN joins, dissenting.
The Motor Carrier Act, 49 Stat. 543, 544, 49 U.S.C. 303 (a) (14), gives to the term "common carrier by motor vehicle" the classic meaning that "common carrier" had acquired and maintained during the course of centuries. In short, the test of what is a "common carrier" under this Act is what legal history has established as the test, and we do not find that the Interstate Commerce Commission has departed from this test. We cannot believe that if the evidence, as disclosed by the record, which need not be recited, had appeared in a common-law action against the respondent, a court would be justified in taking the case from the jury, and that if the jury had found against the respondent, its verdict would not be allowed to stand. The finding by the Interstate Commerce Commission that the respondent was a "common carrier," and therefore subject to the regulatory provisions of the Act, ought not to have less weight than a jury's verdict. Accordingly, other issues raised in the case are not reached, and we would reverse the judgment below. [350 U.S. 409, 413]