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DELAWARE & H CO. v. U S, 266 U.S. 438 (1925)

U.S. Supreme Court

DELAWARE & H CO. v. U S, 266 U.S. 438 (1925)

266 U.S. 438

DELAWARE & H. CO. et al.
v.
UNITED STATES et al.
No. 212.

Argued Nov. 19, 1924.
Decided Jan. 5, 1925.

Messrs. H. T. Newcomb and Walter C. Noves, both of New York City, for appellants.

[266 U.S. 438, 443]   Mr. Blackburn Esterline, of Washington, D. C., for the United States.

[266 U.S. 438, 445]   Mr. P. J. Farrell, of Washington, D. C., for Interstate Commerce commission.

Mr. Justice McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Appellants are proprietors of the railroads which make up the system now operated by the Delaware & Hudson Company. Purporting to proceed as required by section 19a, Interstate Commerce Act, as amended (Act March 1, 1913, c. 92, 37 Stat. 701; Act Feb. 28, 1920, c. 91, 41 Stat. 456, 493; Act June 7, 1922, c. 210, 42 Stat. 624 [Comp. St. Ann. Supp. 1923, 8591 ]), the Interstate Commerce Commission, on March 28, 1923, declared tentative valuations of the properties which the several companies owned June 30, 1916, and allowed 30 days from April 12th for protests. [266 U.S. 438, 446]   Elaborate protests were duly presented. Before they were acted upon appellants began this proceeding-June 13, 1923-wherein they claim that defects in the valuation order prevented them from adequately protecting their rights by protests, and pray that it be annulled. The petition states that the Commission refused to investigate, ascertain, and report many facts relative to values as required by the statute; refused to investigate, ascertain, and report concerning properties used by the Delaware & Hudson Company for purposes of a common carrier; refused to apply to inventories prices existing and current on June 30, 1916; omitted to report analyses of the methods employed for ascertaining values, costs, etc.; also omitted to investigate and report the amount of working capital actually used for purposes of common carriers.

Upon motion the petition was dismissed for want of equity, and the matter is here by direct appeal.

Section 19a of the Interstate Commerce Act, as amended, provides:

The 'tentative valuation' of the statute is no more than an ex parte appraisement without probative effect. By the authorized 'protest' the carrier may offer objections to anything done or omitted in respect thereof and secure the Commission's rulings before the valuation becomes final. Prior to the present proceeding protests, raising the very issues now tendered, had been made and were awaiting action. There is nothing to indicate that the Commission willfully disregarded the law as honestly interpreted or failed to proceed in an orderly manner, or that it will not consider and pass upon all the [266 U.S. 438, 449]   matters set up in the protest and repeated here. Pending further action by it the tentative valuation will not become final and no proceedings thereon can be taken. Under the circumstances disclosed appellants must pursue the remedy provided by the statute and give the Commission opportunity to take final action before they can properly ask interposition by the courts.

The decree below is affirmed.

Mr. Justice BUTLER took no part in the consideration or decision of this cause.

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