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    CITY OF NEW YORK v. NEW YORK TEL CO, 261 U.S. 312 (1923)

    U.S. Supreme Court

    CITY OF NEW YORK v. NEW YORK TEL CO, 261 U.S. 312 (1923)

    261 U.S. 312

    CITY OF NEW YORK
    v.
    NEW YORK TELEPHONE CO.
    No. 588.

    Argued Feb. 21, 1923.
    Decided, March 12, 1923.

    [261 U.S. 312, 313]   Messrs. M. Maldwin Fertig and John P. O'Brien, both of New York City, for appellant.

    Mr. John W. Davis, of New York City, for appellee.

    [261 U.S. 312, 314]  

    Mr. Chief Justice TAFT delivered the opinion of the Court.

    The New York Telephone Company, the appellee herein, filed its bill in the District Court against the members of the New York Public Service Commission, the counsel of the commission and the Attorney General of the state, asking an injunction against the enforcement of two orders of the Public Service Commission as to telephone rates, one as to rates in the city of New York and the other as to those in the state of New York, outside of the city, which it alleged to be confiscatory of its property and in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Thereafter the city of New York moved the court for an order making it a party defendant in the cause. This order the District Court denied. Thereafter an interlocutory injunction against the orders was granted and an appeal. No. 542, is pending here and has been argued, but not decided. This is a separate appeal from the order refusing the application of the city to be made a party defendant.

    Under article 1, section 12, of the Public Service Commission Law of the state of New York (Consol. Laws, c. 48), it is made the duty of [261 U.S. 312, 315]   counsel to the commission--

    Chapter 15 of the Laws of 1922 of the state directs that:

    The necessary defendant in the suit to enjoin the orders lowering rates was the Public Service Commission whose orders they were. In addition the counsel of the commission and the Attorney General were made parties defendant under the legislation above recited. The city of New York has no control over the rates. Its only interest in them is as a subscriber, and even as such its interest in the general rates is not direct because its own rates are settled by a special contract. Under such circumstances, the city is certainly not a necessary party.

    In re Engelhard, 231 U.S. 646 , 34 Sup. Ct. 258, an action had been brought against the city of Louisville to restrain the enforcement of an ordinance prescribing telephone [261 U.S. 312, 316]   rates. One of the subscribers filed a petition in the District Court asking to be made a party defendant. This was denied and the petitioner sought in this court a mandamus to compel the District Judge to grant the petition. It was pressed upon the court that petitioner had a common interest with other subscribers in the rates under discussion and that under equity rule No. 38 when the question is one of common or general interest and it is impracticable to bring them all before the court, one may sue or defend for all. This court held that the city was the proper defendant in the suit as the representative of all interested. We said:

    There is nothing in this case to show that the Public Service Commission will not fully and properly represent the subscribers resident in New York City. Indeed it was said at the bar that the city and the Public Service Commission and the Attorney General were co-operating in every way in the defense of the suit. It was completely within the discretion of the District Court to refuse to allow the city to become a defendant when its interests and those of its residents were fully represented under the law and protected by those who had been made defendants. There is nothing to show that the refusal complained of was an abuse of discretion. This same controversy arose in the case of City of New York v. Consolidated Gas Co., 253 U.S. 219 , 40 Sup. Ct. 511, and the same conclusion was reached. Indeed it was there said that an order like the one here objected to was not of such a final character as to furnish the basis of an appeal, citing Ex parte Cutting, 94 U.S. 14 , 22; Credits Commutation Co. v. United States, 177 U.S. 311, 315 , 20 S. Sup. Ct. 636; Ex parte Leaf Tobacco Board of Trade, [261 U.S. 312, 317]   222 U.S. 578, 581 , 32 S. Sup. Ct. 833. These cases show that exceptional circumstances may make an order denying intervention in a suit a final and appealable order, but the present is not one of them.

    Our conclusion is that this appeal should be

    Dismissed.

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