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MINN. & ST. LOUIS R. R. CO. v. MINNESOTA, 193 U.S. 53 (1904)

U.S. Supreme Court

MINN. & ST. LOUIS R. R. CO. v. MINNESOTA, 193 U.S. 53 (1904)

193 U.S. 53

No. 138.

Argued and submitted January 21, 1904.
Decided February 23, 1904.

Mr. Albert E. Clarke for plaintiff in error.

Messrs. Howard H. Dunn, W. B. Douglas, and Lafayette French for defendant in error.

[193 U.S. 53, 59]  

Mr. Justice McKenna delivered the opinion of the court:

This is a proceeding in mandamus to compel plaintiff in error to build and maintain a station house on the line of its road at the village of Emmons, in compliance with an order of the Railroad & Warehouse Commission of the state of Minnesota.

The order of the commission was made upon petition and upon hearing after due notice to plaintiff in error. The writ was granted by the district court of Freeborn county, where the proceedings were commenced.

The railroad company in its answer attacks the statute under which the commission acted as follows:

The supreme court of the state affirmed the judgment of the district court, the members of the court equally dividing on the facts.

This is the second attempt of the village of Emmons to secure a depot. The first was unsuccessful (76 Minn. 469, 79 N. W. 510, 'wherein the facts are stated'), the supreme court observed; and it further observed, passing on the case at bar:

The defendant in error contends by those observations the court only decided, following its former decision (76 Minn. 469, 79 N. W. 510), that under chapter 6, 388, General Statutes of 1894, the commission had the power to order the erection and maintenance of depots where public necessity or convenience reasonably required it to be done, and that the only change made by the act of 1901 was to shift the burden of proof from the municipality to the railroad company, and therefore the court, in deciding that the railroad company had not overcome the prima facie case arising from the statute, did not decide a Federal question.

It is difficult to deal with the motion on account of the uncertainty of the contentions of plaintiff in error. In its answer in the district court it directly attacks the statute. In this court its contentions are not so sweeping and we are left in doubt by its opening and reply briefs whether the statute as construed by the supreme court is objected to or only its application [193 U.S. 53, 62]   under the facts of the case. However, as the statute was directly attacked in the answer the motion to dismiss is denied, and we will consider whether the grounds of objection to the statute are substantial and sufficient.

(1) The act of 1897 provided as follows:

In its first opinion (76 Minn. 469, 79 N. W. 510), the court held that the word 'villages,' in the act meant incorporated villages, and that Emmons was not incorporated. The court, however, proceeded further, and said:

The court then reviewed the facts, and decided that the order of the commission establishing a station at Emmons was unreasonable. The act was amended in 1901, and the court in the case at bar has decided, as we have seen, the amendment has only shifted the burden of proof. In other words, to quote from the opinion of the court, 'incorporated villages within this state (Minnesota) located on railway lines are prima facie entitled to depots,' and at a hearing before the commissioners and in the district court the railroad has the burden of showing that the establishment of a depot is unreasonable and unnecessary.

The statute, as thus construed, does not transcend the power of the state. In other words, and meeting exactly the contention of plaintiff in error, the statute does not deny plaintiff in error the right to reasonably manage or control its property or arbitrarily take its property without its consent or without compensation or due process of law. Wisconsin, M. & P. R. Co. v. Jacobson, 179 U.S. 287 , 45 L. ed. 194, 21 Sup. Ct. Rep. 115. To establish stations at proper places is the first duty of a railroad company. The state can certainly provide for the enforcement of that duty. An incorporated village might be said to be such a place without an express declaration of the statute. To make it prima facie so by statute and to impose the burden of meeting the presumption thence arising, certainly does not amount to an invasion of the rights of property or an unreasonable control of property. This seems to be conceded in the reply brief of plaintiff in error. Counsel say:

And stating the decision of the court in 76 Minn. counsel quotes as follows:

And counsel adds: 'This is, of necessity, a Federal question.'

Whether it is or not, and whether it is so dependent on the facts of the case as not to be open to our review, is the next ground to be considered.

(2) The charge is that the property of plaintiff in error is taken without due process of law; but whether so taken is made to depend upon a question of fact,-the requirement of 'an unnecessary and wholly useless expenditure of money.' It is well established that on error to a state court this court cannot re-examine the evidence, and when the facts are found we are concluded by such finding. Egan v. Hart, 165 U.S. 188 , 41 L. ed. 680, 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 300. But in the case at bar we are met by the circumstance that the supreme court equally divided on the question whether the facts distinguish this case from 76 Minn. The plaintiff in error, therefore, contends that there has been no judgment of the supreme court on the facts, and they are open to review here. The contention is not tenable. There is no statement of facts by the supreme court, and its decision, though by a divided court, constituted an affirmance of the finding of the district court. The finding was as follows:

The finding, like the verdict of a jury, is conclusive in this court. Dower v. Richards, 151 U.S. 658 , 38 L. ed. 305, 14 Sup. Ct. Rep. 452. It follows that the order of the Warehouse Commission was not an unreasonable requirement, and the judgment is affirmed.

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